View from across the river

Village History - Village Pump

The Blandford Weekly News of October 22 nd 1887 reported that ‘On Tuesday last the new pump lately erected by TH Bastard Esq. was formally opened for the public use of the parish.’

Thomas Horlock Bastard was in his 92 nd year, and had invited a few parishioners to meet him at the pump. He pumped some water, drank it, and said it was good and wholesome for the women to make their tea and for other cooking purposes. He went on to say that he had thought of installing a pump for some time and the drought caused by the dry summer had made him put his thoughts into practice. He then commended pure water as preferable to alcohol.

He presented the pump to those present on behalf of the parishioners and said he hoped it would be of good service in the village. The parishioners thanked him and gave three cheers for Mr and Mrs Bastard.

Mr Bastard was Lord of the Manor of Charlton Marshall. He was the great grandson of Thomas Bastard of Blandford whose brothers were responsible for much of the rebuilding in Blandford after the fire of 1731. He seems to have had a keen interest in the provision of clean water because the pump in Blandford Market Square erected by his ancestor after the fire, bears a plaque recording that Thomas Horlock Bastard of Charlton Marshall restored it in 1858, and I’m sure too that I have read that he was responsible for a pump in the Milldown area of Blandford.

Old Ordnance Survey maps show wells in many cottage gardens in Charlton, and I know today that there is at least one cottage that has a trapdoor in the kitchen floor covering the well shaft. The earliest reference I have so far found to mains water is in Kelly’s Directory for 1939 – supplied by the Blandford Water Works Company Ltd. Can anyone confirm when water mains were laid, and does anyone remember the pump in use?

So, next time you walk up The Close, or go to the Post Office, give a thought to that little group standing around the pump in 1887, and perhaps recall too that there are plenty of communities around the world today that would value such a provision.

As a result of this piece, Mr Jim Barfoot has told me that he remembers the water main being laid and before that he remembers residents of the cottages on the main road and others nearby using the pump.

Water came to the village in the 1930s followed by gas and then electricity.

The pump in Blandford used to be in Damory Street near the old grammar school. Our Thomas Horlock Bastard founded the school in 1862 as the Mill Down Endowed School, and in 1864 he had the pump erected for public use on adjoining land. Please does anyone know of a photograph of that pump?

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