Mr. Peter Francis


General Manager

1946 - 1970.

Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea

Southend Waterworks Company Directors and Others 1865 - 1970
The history of the Southend Waterworks Company

Next to Oxygen water is the most vital substance essential to life, it is most crucial to life forms on this and every other planet.

Water is a chemical composition of Oxygen and Hydrogen. There are 1.4B km3 locked in our planet.

We all take clean water for granted its a part of every day life never a thought where it comes from or how its made the journey

to our tap. The water supply to Southend and surrounding areas did not just happen by chance but evolved through careful

planning and expert engineering.

In the early days up to the 1800s water was gathered from wells, ponds and brooks which often became contaminated. It was

reported that there were numerous outbreaks of Typhoid and other water born diseases.

In 1865 the first water facility to supply Southend was built by the firm of Thomas Brassey a private company who had

previously built the railway from London to Southend in 1856. A well/borehole, pumping station in Milton Rd, a reservoir and

later a water tower in Scratton Rd/Cambridge Road supplied water to the area known as Cliff Town in central Southend.

In 1871 the Southend Waterworks Company became a limited company. In 1879 the company took on to supply the nearby

surrounding areas and in 1894 included Thundersley 1907 the Billericay Rural District Council and the Leigh Urban District

Council were purchased. By 1924 the company had expanded and now supplied water to Rochford and the Parishes of

Buttsbury and Fobbing with further supply to Langdon Hills in 1959 and Shoeburyness in 1960.

This continued expansion meant from 1865 to 1921 extra wells/boreholes where sunk across the area of supply, yields were

generally poor compared to the capital expenditure involved. In 1921 a bill was lodged in Parliament and received the Royal

Accent giving powers to build the Langford Works and extract water from the rivers Chelmer, Ter and Blackwater. By 1927 most

of the wells/boreholes were maintained as reserve sources.

Until 1945 96% of the Company’s water was obtained from Langford pumping to Oakwood service reservoir to supply

Southend to the east and Canvey Island, Benfleet, Pitsea and Laindon to the west, water required by the high areas of

Hockley, Rayleigh, Thundersley, Billericay, Ramesden Heath and Langdon Hills were all supplied by booster stations.

Before the war it was realised that all the Company’s resources would not meet demand. The normal growth of the undertaking

was at a standstill during the war but new demands were being made on the Company’s resources with the advent of Basildon

New Town and it was necessary to research and develop new sources. In the years 1947 to 1964 a policy of modernisation of

the pumping plants at the more productive resources was pursued, 27 automatic electrically operated submersable borehole

pumps and control equipment were installed at Barling, Benfleet, Bowers, Downham, Dunton Hall, Fambridge, Fobbing, Great

Wakering, Hole Haven well 2, Leigh Beck, Mountnessing, Nevendon, Nobles Green, Oakwood, Pitsea, Prittlewell,

Shoeburyness, Slices Gate, Southchurch, Vange, Wakering Wick and Wickford well/borehole sites to provide a more efficient

extraction of local water.

Over the years demand for water supply has greatly increased, Hanningfield reservoir was constructed and completed in 1956

in this year the Company boasted 15 service reservoirs, 8 water towers and 17 pumping stations improvements are ongoing to

this day.

The Southend Division has 1,300 miles of water mains, Raw water is pumped to reservoirs at Langford and Hanningfield.

Treated – clarification, softening and sterilisation then pumped to service (covered) Oakwood reservoirs 17Mg (76.5Ml) 218.5 ft

+ OD Newlyn where it gravitates to Southend. Present approx 30MGD to Division.

Abberton Reservoir
The History of a Seaside Town

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Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea