Pumps and Wells of Seighford
Before mains water was brought into Seighford in 1948, the whole village relied on wells. All of the farms had their own wells, but all of the cottages had to draw water from the two village pumps, One was located about ten yards to the west of the old Village Shop, back off the pavement on a grassy hump, opposite and the pair of old thatched cottages.
In the excavations for the new school, almost on the south boundary, the old school well was uncovered, it had been filled in soon after the mains water came into Seighford, but I can remember the school caretaker Mrs Appleby, arriving from next door where she lived (the house was just behind the iron gates into the new tarmac playing area), and her first job was to hand pump the water needed for the school that day, then light the boiler for the central heating.
In the wood behind the Cumbers (Haynes Covert) is another shallow well with a very large sandstone cover, some six foot by four foot and about six foot deep. It is more like a sump. It must be over a very active spring as it is always wet below the wood fence. From the well runs a cast iron pipe in a direct and straight line to the middle of “Yews Farm” yard then under the road to the lowest point of “Green Farm” yard, where in both yards there used to be a long cattle water trough. Over the trough was a curved water pipe that continuously ran a steady dribble of water, this was fed by gravity from the wood. This again is a good and easy “dig” as the cast iron pipe is exposed in places where it crosses ditches, although it has been broken in places. Across one ditch is a tee, which was a drain to flush the pipe from time to time, and, when in use it had a wooden bung (at that point it would have about five foot head of water so no great pressure and all by gravity) The work horses would be turned out after a hard days work and drink from the trough as would the cattle. This happened in both farm yards.
The last well to be dug in Seighford was at the Yews Farm and is still an active and very clean well (but not pumped). The original well was in the back kitchen of the house but was too shallow and ran dry in the summer and could not cope with the demand of the farm house and dairy. The new one was dug to thirty two feet, just about the limit that water can be drawn (at thirty four feet then the pump mechanism has to go down the well to meet the water). On a recent opening of this well, some fifty years after it had been condemned by the water authority (only because the mains were put into Seighford) the brickwork looked as new. The water we dipped with a bucket was crystal clear (we could bottle it and sell it to Tesco). No water had been drawn in all them years.
Wells were dug by two experienced men, one of whom would dig in the centre of a four foot iron frame. Round which the other man would place loose bricks; he would also pull the soil up with a rope and bucket. As the soil was dug from the underside of the bottom edge of the frame, so the weight of the bricks would gradually drop and more bricks added to the top. That is why all wells have a slight curving, and twisting, as they drop more one side than the other, then corrected on digging deeper. This went on until a good flow of water was found usually below a layer of clay. in a seam of sand or gravel. (I was told the water could have dropped as rain as far away as Stafford Castle).
One other pump of note was the one for Seighford Hall, it drew water from springs to the west of the building, some half mile away, very near the S bends on the edge of the airfield. Water was carried by gravity, down a cast iron pipe to a pump house, which looks like a large dry well about ten feet across and four feet deep. This used to be covered to protected it from frost, and is situated to the south of the main building, behind the coach house, in a small paddock surrounded by iron railings. The pump itself was what was called a ram pump, which energized itself with the water that passed through it. This was achieved by the fact that the feeding spring, was some fifteen feet above the pump. This gave it sufficient and constant pressure to work. The pump had an air dome above it, where the water would rush in, then rebound against the air pressure. The water having come through a non return valve was forced up another pipe with non return valve to a large tank in the roof of the hall. Only a proportion of the water was sent for use in the header tank, the rest was exhausted into the brook, it was self perpetuating almost like perpetual motion and needed almost no maintenance the only moving parts were non return valves