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History Mills, Weirs Industrial Power

Whitewell Well

REF NR: 2109

One of the original wells is situated in Well Lane just east of the church and a blessing takes place each year with members of the church making a tableau out of flowers.


Water for washing and drinking purposes had to be drawn from nearby wells. The picture below is of one of four cottages along Southford Lane that shared one well. It shows Mrs. Newington, the daughter of Jacob Saunders, after pulling up two pails full using the 20 feet long rope.



Village water

Frederick Patsy Orchard, 1907-1989, lived at Jolliffe’s Farm in Nettlecombe. In his memoirs he tells us that the farm had a well just inside the gate from which they pumped water for the house and into tanks in the yard for the cattle. Like most houses, the toilet was outside with the bucket emptied every few days. This was known as the bucket and chuck it method. It was too far for him to come home from school for lunch, so sandwiches were provided and a drink of water was taken from The Red Lion, located just outside the school.

A German industrial chemist Theodor Julius William Spindler decided to come to the island for the benefit of his health in 1873 and purchased an estate of 144 acres known as Old Park in the Undercliff in 1882.

Mr. William Spindler was a most generous subscriber to a fund required to lay on a supply of pure drinking water for the inhabitants who had suffered in health through drinking contaminated water from the local wells and springs. Mr. Granville Ward made a free gift of land for the reservoir and granted also the water from springs on his estate at Bierley. Theodor Saunders carried out the work, and the cost of over £600 was half paid by Spindler, half by the villagers.


The scheme covered the whole village and included the nearby hamlet of Nettlecombe with about 16 cast iron outlets known as ‘lions’ or ‘red boys’.

‘Going down to the Red Lion for a drink’ didn't quite have the same meaning as it does today.


In the picture above, you can see the outlets display a lion's head, a platform for a bucket and handle at the side that turned on the water, which flowed from the lion’s mouth. There was also a metal cup on a chain.

An industrial chemist from Berlin, Germany, came to Ventnor in 1873 for personal health reasons. He stayed at Medina Cottage until he negotiated the purchase of Old Park in 1881. Among the many projects he created was the sea wall at Binnel and the installation of ‘Red Boys’ water stands in Whitwell village.


He also instigated, with others, the building of the road between St. Lawrence Shute and Pine Point, Ventnor, and the road between Kemming Road and Niton.