- Water Supply of London
- Until the 13th century the inhabitants of the City were dependent for their water supply on the natural wells and streams that existed in and about the City.These wells seem to have been very numerous, at least so far as the northern districts were concerned.Clerkenwell possessed, besides its own Clerk's well, Skinners-well, Fagswell, Goswell, all mentioned in early records, while Everard's well was in the Cripplegate area, and other wells, such as Dame Agnes le clair" and " Holywell" were to be found further east.Besides the wells there were the streams of Holborn, the Fleet, and Walbrook within the City area flowing down to the Thames.As the City increased in size, however, the tendency was for these streams to become filled up and polluted, so that in course of time it became necessary to seek for other sources of supply. To the north and west of the City other streams were available, and the Tyburn, receiving the waters from the high lands of Hampstead and Highgate, promised a pure and abundant supply.In 1235 the City acquired land at Tyburn with liberty to make pipes to convey the water from Tyburn to fixed places in. the City for the use of the citizens. For this purpose a conduit head or receipt house was erected over, or as near as possible to the natural -spring or springs forming the sources of supply, and water was led into it, filling a cistern or tank, and passing on through the pipes to the distributing base one or more miles distant. Numerous conduits (q.v.) were erected in the City to receive the water, which was stored in them and drawn from cocks or taps by the citizens as required.These conduits continued in use until the 16th century, when a scheme was initiated by Peter Morice, a Dutchman, for bringing water from the Thames into London by means of pumps and forciers. It was for this purpose that the water works at London Bridge were constructed.In the 17th century a further supply was assured by the formation of the New River Company by Hugh Myddleton to bring water from Hertfordshire and from the Lea into the City.
A Dictionary of London. Henry A Harben. 1918.