When clean water was in short supply

Rouser 2013
Rouser 2013

Rouser is nothing if not versatile. Sewage systems and drains are always high on his editorial agenda.

Prior to the formation of the Newhaven and Seaford Water Company in 1881, water in the area was obtained from a number of privately owned pumps and wells.

According to the Newhaven Times, the quality of the water was not up to much and there was a constant risk of sewage contamination of the supply.

Not a pleasant thought. There was the danger of an outbreak of cholera.

Lord Sheffield, frustrated at the lack of local action, took it upon himself to appoint at his own expense Sir John Coode to produce a report on the matter.

It made disturbing reading.

He found there were more than 30 cesspools in the town which received the drainage.

In once instance a cesspool was found in the cellar of a house which received the effluent of neighbouring homes, as well as its own.

Several other cellars were subject to flooding and to a back-flow of sewage during high tides.

He wrote: ‘The drainage at Newhaven is effected by a series of public and private drains which have to a greater extent been constructed without regard to any definite system.

These sewers lead into 17 outfalls which discharge into the River Ouse.’

The sewage of Newhaven folk was therefore carried up-river, as the ride came in, towards Lewes.

It was against this background that the Newhaven and Seaford Water Company was set up.

The first source of clean water for the area was a well, operated by a steam pump and auxiliary windmill, at East Blatchington (see picture) on the outskirts of Seaford.

That was the beginning of a reliable, clean water supply for the locality, something we take for granted these days.