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Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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Geology Site Account

A-Z Geological Site Index

Buell Spring, DANBURY, Chelmsford District, TL78390451, Potential Local Geological Site

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Site name: Buell Spring, on the eastern side of Danbury Common.

Grid reference: TL 7839 0451

Brief description of site:

Buell Spring on Danbury Hill is a good example of a natural spring. The spring has been used as a water supply in the past and now issues from a cast iron pipe. The spring is on land owned by the National Trust and adjacent to the extensive disused gravel pits on Danbury Common. Access is available at all times.


Summary of the geological interest:

A spring line at approximately 70 metres above sea level runs right round Danbury Hill, where water seeps out of the permeable Danbury Gravel on meeting the impermeable London Clay below.

The largest spring here is from Buell Spring, which feeds Buell Brook. The spring itself is some 50 metres to the north, but was piped to this site to enable a pumping station to be built on firmer ground. In 1891 water from the spring was raised by self-acting ram to a tank on Danbury Hill, and, by 1900, water from this well was being supplied to communities as far away as Battlesbridge and Wickford. Reservoirs were provided to store water. In 1911 the reservoirs supplied water to a population of about 4,000. The pumps and reservoirs became redundant in 1936 and were finally demolished in 1962. All that now remains of them are the foundations and odd pieces of pipework.

The crystal-clear water of the spring now emerges from a cast iron pipe next to the foundations of the pumping station. Of particular interest is the accumulation of orange/red-coloured ‘bog-iron’ in the damp ground between here and the site of the spring further up the hill, which is a cementing of the soil by the iron compounds leached out of the gravel.


Site importance

Buell Spring is of considerable educational interest. It is a good example of a natural spring. It also has a historical connection, formerly being an important source of water for the area. Whitaker (1916) states that the water was supplied to Battlesbridge, Little Baddow, Runwell, Sandon and Wickford station.

Buell Spring on Danbury Hill. Photo: G.Lucy


Extract from 1914-1924 OS map showing Buell Spring
Extract from 1914-1924 OS map showing Buell Spring

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Reference: Wallis & Musson 1995 (p.10), Whitaker & Thresh 1916 (p.76-77)

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