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Friends Newsletter No. 62

November 2014

Friends are the guardians of Malvern's water heritage (Malvern Gazette 1 March 2013 p.14). We are an independent voluntary group who relentlessly promote research, conservation and celebration of the Springs, Spouts, Fountains and Holy Wells of the Malvern Hills and of Great Malvern as a Spa Town.
We have Elgar's Spade but what about Shaw's?

In the early days of the Mulberry Tree project we looked around for a treasured spade to eventually use at a public unveiling of Mulberry Tree II in Priory Park. Although we were unable to locate George Bernard Shaw's original spade we did manage to acquire Edward Elgar's Mulberry Tree spade through the kind generosity of a Friend. Having acquired the spade we have lodged it in the custodianship of Malvern Museum.

The news is that in September Shaw's spade was discovered in the United States. It came up for auction at the estate sale of Ray Bradbury, a lifelong fan of Shaw. He was given the spade as a Christmas present. Shaw had apparently originally given the spade to his own gardener and friend for 34 years, Harry Higgs. It bears a plaque recording the Mulberry Tree planting in Malvern on Shaw's 80th birthday in 1936. It also comes with paperwork verifying its authenticity. The successful bid for the spade at the auction was five thousand US dollars! Makes you wonder what the Elgar spade might be worth? We are assured that Malvern Museum have it securely locked away until the Mulberry Tree unveiling in 2016.
In the pictures: above right - Cora and Bruce at the recently planted Mulberry Tree II in Priory Park with the Elgar Spade; picture right - the plaque on the Shaw spade.
Priory Park is also noted for its historic Swan Pool
Fed by spring water, the medieval monks of Malvern Priory used the lake as a fishery.  More recently it has had various recreational uses including boating as can be seen from the picture left. Should boating be reintroduced as a fun thing to do on a sunny afternoon? Read on to find out how Malvern has been upstaged.

Southsea shows Malvern how to do it
Like Malvern, Southsea, near Portsmouth has a Swan Pool. It also has a decorative fountain which has grade II listed status. Both features are located together, a short distance from the pier. So what, you may ask? The fountain was beautifully restored in 2005 unlike Malvern's Wilson Memorial Fountain, which was pulled down when it fell into decay. In the picture: the fountain, which dates from 1893 is in memory of mayor Emanuel Emanuel 1866/7. It was presented to the people of Portsmouth by his son and daughter. One of his achievements was the draining of the Southsea common, now a thriving town. The fountain was moved to its present location in 1934 following road layout changes.
Like Malvern, Swan Pool in Southsea also has swans but these are big ones! In fact large enough to climb aboard and have a paddle around the lake. It has been suggested that if we cannot have the controversial cable car up the hills perhaps we could have a few giant swans in Priory Park.
Stone Bottle Fountain
Whilst at the Three Counties Showground recently we were pleased to see that the Stone Bottle Fountain is still in situ in its purpose built wall and garden feature near the South Gate. We arranged for its siting in this prominent position in 2011 as a fitting tribute to 160 years of bottling Schweppes Malvern Water. It was originally sited outside the Colwall factory but was in danger of disappearing when the factory closed. For more details it is site number 80 on our web site index of Malvern springs and Wells.
John Jordan updates us on the Heart of England in Bloom contest
In July our Mulberry Tree project featured in the above competition as part of the Malvern entry. John now reports that he has been to Shrewsbury, together with our Mayor, Julian Roskams, and Eadwine Brown from the town council staff, for the awards ceremony where he is pleased to report that Malvern was awarded another 'Gold' certificate....our eighth in nine years.  Once again we were pipped at the post for the category winner by Biddulph which won for the third time!  So congratulations to them. However, we still have the National Britain in Bloom Awards ceremony, in Bristol, to look forward to on 16th October, and I hope we are able to maintain our gold winning streak there, albeit that we are then up against the best in the seventeen regions of Britain !
Owls Hole Pump and Engine at the Three Counties Autumn Show
After more than ten years in storage the Owls Hole Pump and Engine were once again up and running, this time at the Three Counties Showground at Malvern in September. This was after a lot of care and attention by John Clifford who now has possession of these amazing relics. They were first recovered in a derelict state in the early 1990s from the Owls Hole Spring Pumping Station down below British Camp in the Malvern Hills. Restoration followed and for many years they made regular appearances at the Worcestershire County Museum and other local venues.
In the picture above, John (right) is keeping a watchful eye on the Malvern treasure. Plans are afoot to reinstate pumping water and this will perhaps be something to watch out for next year. In the meantime Cora enjoys a moment's relaxation with old friends. For more details go to our web site and do a keyword search 'Owls', scroll down your search results.

While we were at the Three Counties Showground you will never guess who turned up and was amazed to see the Owls Hole Pump and Engine in full gallop?  In the 1960s John Hiles was a young man working for the water board and one of his tasks was to assist with the running of the pump and engine to supply water to houses and the hotel around British Camp. Here he assisted Bert Howell ensuring that the pumped supply was available daily for the inhabitants who relied on it. Imagine his surprise when he suddenly spotted the distinctive machinery at the Three Counties Showground. It was not long before he had come inside the enclosure to take a closer look. In the picture he is seen with Bruce reminiscing about his job in the 1960s.

Eager to offer his advice John Hiles soon became engaged in discussion with John Clifford who orchestrated the appearance of the pump and engine at the Three Counties Showground. In the picture they are seen debating the state of the valve chambers and the problems of putting the pump and engine back in water.
The Autumn Show weekend was a most memorable occasion that created a lot of interest. Our thanks must go to all who helped to ensure the pump and engine became the star turn, especially John Clifford, without whose efforts and enthusiasm it would not have happened.
Reliability of Malvern Springs and elsewhere

We are lucky in Malvern to have such reliable springs, but some have been a bit low on flow recently. The long, dry summer has reduced Hay Slad to a bit of a trickle, though if the water flowed through one spout instead of two it wouldn't look quite so depleted. It hasn't stopped the hopeful queues at the spout. St Ann's Well was also much reduced, though is always more susceptible to low rainfall. Malvhina continued to gush as usual. Imagine now what life must have been like until the middle of the 20th century, back to the days when there were frequent summer droughts and rarely enough reservoir capacity to cope with the increasing population. There were some summers in the 19th century when the Council cut off the water, only turning it on for an hour or two day - but not telling anyone which hours that would be. As ever, 'waste not, want not'.
What brought the subject up about spring reliability was a recent exploratory visit to near Chalford in the Cotswolds.
A party of Friends were out exploring water features in the Cotswolds recently. This included having a look at the Sapperton Tunnel, on the derelict Thames and Severn Canal in Gloucestershire, In its day it was the longest canal tunnel in existence, being well over two miles in length. It was built in 1789, over 200 years ago.
Then quite by chance the party saw the source of the River Thames marked on the map. Cora, unable to contain her enthusiasm for discovering a new spring led the party across hill and dale until we espied a massive granite monolith. The inscription in the granite read 'The Conservators of the River Thames 1857 - 1974. This stone was placed here to mark the source of the River Thames'. 
The only problem was where was the water? It would have been great to have seen a prolific spring erupting from the boulder filled hole adjacent to the monolith but this was not to be. Maybe the water table was low or else the Thames had moved? From source to mouth the Thames is 184 miles long we are told. Hopefully it is not all dry. How lucky we are in Malvern to have reasonably reliable springs that flow year in and year out. In the picture disappointed Cora investigates the boulders while local Friends Eli and Rich patiently offer words of encouragement and wonder whether they would do better to live in Malvern.

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Best wishes, Cora & Bruce
Bruce Osborne, Tower House, Tadworth, Surrey. KT20 5QY
Tel. 01737 213169   email
Cora Weaver, 4 Hall Green, Malvern, Worcs. WR14 3QX            
Tel. 01684 561215   email

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