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Essex Field Club
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EFC Centre at Wat Tyler Country ParkWe are closed due to the Covid-19 situation, but we are otherwise normally open to the public at our centre at Wat Tyler Country Park every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday 11am-4pm, check. We are also normally open on Wednesdays 10am-4pm.

Geology Site Account

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Saffron Walden Waterworks Well (site of), SAFFRON WALDEN, Uttlesford District, TL53863840, Historical site only

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Site category: Borehole or well

Site name: Saffron Walden Waterworks Well (site of)

Grid reference: TL 5386 3840

Brief description of site:

Site of a deep borehole in 1836 which is reputed to have penetrated the hard, ancient rocks deep beneath Essex known as the 'Palaeozoic basement'.



In 1836, Jabez Gibson initiated and funded the drilling of a well to obtain an adequate water supply for the town. The well was situated at the waterworks in Hill Street in the centre of the town. It terminated at a depth of 306 metres (1,004 feet) and is reputed to have reached the Palaeozoic ‘basement’ of Essex. However, the evidence for this, and the suggestion that the well encountered Jurassic rocks beneath Saffron Walden is uncertain.

Well boring was long, arduous and often dangerous work. The operator of the Saffron Walden boring was Samuel Purkiss of Little Baddow, who had been responsible for other deep wells in Essex. The foreman, John Bell, is described as “never, during the long period of ten months quitted the experiment for a single hour’.

The well is also known as the Saffron Walden Fire Station Well as the fire station now occupies the site.


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Reference: Osborne White 1932 (p.6), Lake & Wilson 1990 (p.4 & 47), Whitaker & Thresh 1916 (p. 253-254), Anon 1839.

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