We came across this Grade II listed grotto recently, which perhaps could provide inspiration for a Malvern Hills site restoration. This grotto can be found by the bus stop in Esher High Street and makes an ideal spot to rest ones weary legs after dashing across the various road junctions trying to avoid the traffic coming in all directions. Located opposite the Civic Centre, it was originally known as Wolsey's Well. The grotto was once a drinking fountain with a spring fed basin of water on the left hand side and a seat in the middle arch. However, as early as 1841, Brayley in Topographical History of Surrey wrote that the real local name was Travellers' Rest. It has been moved and altered over the years; it was even hit by an out of control dumper truck in the 1960s! Local opinion is that when constructed it utilised the surviving parts of Cardinal Wolsey's Palace at Esher, in which case the well might date from the 15th or 16th centuries.
In the picture - a neat way to refill your water bottle in Selfridges.
Bottled Water - what about in the US however.... is the previous editorial the full story?
In less than ten years, bottled water consumption has doubled, with prices as much as 100 times that of tap water. Whether you think bottled water is healthier or it tastes better, or even if you happily drink tap water, it's clear that bottled water is here to stay. A startling recent entrant to the market is Bling H2O water and this retails for as much as $40.00 a bottle. Bottles have been spotted in the US in the hands of numerous celebrities and even at awards ceremonies like the Emmy's and Grammy's. The water is bottled in Dandridge, Tennessee.
The secret lies in the bottle as they say. Bling H2O comes in limited edition 750ml bottles. They come frosted, corked, and boasting hand-applied Swarovski crystal. Has this reached England yet? Claridge’s Hotel in London has a bottled water menu. Products range from $9 - $40 USD for a bottle. One of the most expensive bottles on the menu seems to be a product called Just Born Spring Drops. Also on the menu is 10 Thousand B.C., a bottle of water that can be yours for about $28 USD.
There is hope yet for Malvern bottled water perhaps.
TUNNEL SPRING and the pumping house plans
Adrian Putley, a Friend from the Civic Society's Railway Group, recently acquainted us with some archive material that throws more light on the Tunnel Spring (no. 81). The documents were once owned by the GWR archives in Swindon. Later, when BR closed the Swindon offices, they were dispersed if no longer required, to the appropriate public archive collections, so many have ended up in the Wilts archives at Chippenham.
The railway tunnel from Colwall to Malvern opened in 1861 and steam locos worked the line. In 1852, when cutting the tunnel, a spring was struck about a third of a way from the western end. People above the line of the tunnel depended on local spring water, so thereafter a 3000 gallon tank above the tunnel on Allen land supplied this need. As demand for water increased, in 1860 a second tank of similar capacity was considered immediately above the first tank but it is uncertain whether it was ever installed. Water from the tunnel spring was pumped up 310 feet using a steam engine located in a chamber within the tunnel adjacent to a ventilation shaft. The supply pipe went up the ventilation shaft. From the top of the shaft a four inch caste iron main led to the tank(s) where supplies were piped off to local premises. As development continued the Hornyold estate requested a water supply and a scheme was devised to provide an alternative pumping station.
In the picture below the 1861 and 1927 tunnel entrances. Supplied by and copyright J E C Peters 2003.
The Imperial Hotel at Great Malvern and Malvern Link's former hotel, now a school were supplied by a three inch gravity main underneath the railway tracks from the tunnel. A further GWR pipeline also fed the station and fountain at Great Malvern. According to the Chippenham archive documentation a plan was devised to install a second four inch main alongside the track as far as the signal box about 100 yards east of the eastern tunnel entrance. Here there would be a new 3000 gallon tank and a new pumping engine house and coal store.
The new steam engine would pump water through a new pipeline that circumvented the tunnel entrance. From here it would rise to Allen's tanks by connecting with the existing pipeline at the top of the shaft. Was this pumping house and pipeline ever installed? The tunnel was notorious for lack of oxygen rendering train driver's unconscious and so perhaps the hidden agenda was to remove the steam pump out of the tunnel, reducing pollution and making it more practical for operatives to service. As it was the tunnel pump was only operated at night when trains were less frequent.
Above - a not-to-scale diagram of the principal features of the proposal
In 1927 a new railway tunnel opened adjacent to the first and the earlier one was abandoned. Some years ago we explored the railway track up to the tunnel entrances on the eastern side. There was an iron tank still full of water alongside the track in the position as described above. It is known that it was an important supply for the steam locos. The overflow water flowed down the trackside and over the bank to the bridge that pedestrians use for accessing the golf course from Fruitlands. The trackside main was also supplied from this tank. All traces of the signal box and any possible adjacent pumping station had long since disappeared however.
Cable Cars to the Hills take a new twist.
Once again the cable car to the hills project has hit the headlines. Having received much criticism earlier this year, the local paper featured another proposal recently. This time it is to use the 1920s Troyte Griffith's design for a new spa in Rose Bank Gardens as the lower terminus for the cable car. This certainly is more in keeping with the character of Malvern than the earlier proposal for a terminus building. However if we are to have a terminus near the town centre lets go the whole hog and incorporate a fountain in the design. In fact let's have a fountain to beat all fountains.
The Fountain of Trevi in Rome is a world class water feature and something along these lines would put Malvern in a new world class of tourism resort as well as adding yet another site to our list of Springs, Spouts, Fountains and Holy Wells of the Malvern Hills. If we have to have a cable car, in spite of requiring an Act of Parliament to secure permission, let's have a magnificent terminus with a spectacular fountain that we can use for something else when the cable car becomes a financial disaster.
In the picture - the Fontana di Trevi in the 1920s.
The Final Solution?
The Malvern Hill's Cable car debate is being followed by many people of National fame interested in the robustness of countryside conservation measures. One such person is Jeremy Harte of Bourne Hall Museum in Surrey. A noted expert on springs and Holy Wells, he has proposed an alternative. Visitors seeking a mechanical means to the top of the hills could perhaps be elevated by electric lifts located in the redundant shaft of the old railway tunnel mentioned earlier. This would minimise any marring of the landscape and yet would provide space for underground services and access to the hill top. Sounds a crazy idea perhaps but what an excellent use for the old tunnel and shaft.