Bristol’s Boiling Wells and Quay Pipe

Bristol’s Boiling Wells, Paniwell, Pamwell and The Quay Pipe

An overview by Adrian K. Kerton MSc. 2017

Notes: text in italics is taken from the referenced documents.
The links to the Internet references are those current on March 1st 2017

The Boiling Wells, the springs at Boiling Wells Lane Bristol, were powerful though never hot, the turbulence and bubbling resembled boiling. The springs are still there but have lost much of their vigour. The pure waters of the Boiling Wells grew fine watercress as a commercial crop, hence Watercress Road in St. Werburghs. It still grows wild in exposed sections of the watercourse close to the source. A wellhead was established and water piped to the harbour side where it was used both for the citizens and to provide water supplies for ships departing from the harbour. It is probable that Cabot’s ships in 1497 were provisioned with water from the Quay Pipe.

Today the springs are no longer boiling as shown in this photo from April 2017.

Boling Wells April 2017

Flow recorder

When Bristol Water took over the supply they installed a monitoring device that was housed in its own ‘sentry’ building mounted on a shelf. Weights would have been in place although these were possibly stolen when the building was broken into. The device was rescued by the owners of the adjacent Watercress farm and collected by Bristol Water for display in their museum at Blagdon.

At the end of this article you can see various references as to when the water from the conduits was replaced by wine.  It would be nice to see that again !

They were, for many years, a major source of good quality water to supply to Bristol, however it is unclear when the first pipe from the wells was laid and by whom. The quay was constructed in 1247 so it would presumably be after this date. Some historians think the pipe was commissioned by the Dominican Friars at Broadmead citing the charter of 1391. However I disagree. These are examples:

This attributes the Quay Pipe to the Dominican Friars on Broadmead.
A number of earlier historians have assumed that the Quay Pipe was constructed by the lay authorities, indeed it was in the nineteenth century said to owe ‘nothing to the cowled monks’; however a charter and covenant of 1389 and 1391 respectively make it clear that it was in fact originally granted to the ‘begging friars’, probably the Dominicans or Black Friars, who donated it to the Mayor and Common Council of Bristol on the conditions of the provision of a branch pipe or ‘feather’, for their house, and the maintenance of the whole conduit.

Ref: LIQUID ASSETS – An Analysis of the Supply and Control of Water in Bristol in the Sixteenth Century by Jocelyn Davis 2015

Here the PaniWell is cited as the Boiling Wells.
Some supplies were acts of charity – in 1207 Robert Berkeley gave Redcliffe parish a supply via lead pipes from Ruge Well at Knowle – but many conduits were constructed by religious houses and later taken over by the city, which then paid for upkeep. One, provided by the Dominicans of Quaker’s Friars, was later extended to the Quay on the River Frome and became the city’s principal conduit, for centuries supplying shipping. …….supplied from the Panni Well (later known as the Boiling Spring) in Ashley Vale, near the eventual site of Ashley Hill Station.”
Ref: Bristol’s Water Supply – History And Environmental Aspects By S.M. Taylor

In this example we see confusion between the Boiling Wells, the Beggars Well, and the Paniwell.
The Ashley Vale source of the Key Pipe was the “Penny” or Beggars Well, a withy bed between Ashley Court and the mill stream. The latter flowing from the Boiling Well located towards Stoke House. Key Pipe was formerly a friary pipe belonging to the Dominicans at Quaker Friars.
Ref: aquae Britannia: rediscovering 17th century springs & spas: in the footsteps of Celia Fiennes

These following documents suggest that the Quay Pipe was not built by the Dominican Friars. The Inspeximus of 1391 mentions “a pipe belonging to the Commonalty” suggesting that the Quay Pipe was already civil undertaking by the public authority of the time.
Ref: Patent Rolls of Richard II, vol. 4 1389-1392

Note: the Paniwell, Panniwell, Pamwell or Penywell is almost certainly located somewhere in the region of the current Pennywell Road, and if we assume it was half way along, this is just over a mile {1.75 km} from the location of the Boiling Wells. No 160 Penywell Road was at one time called Pamwell House.

A map* of Bristol in 1480, shows the Beggars Well is a short distance some 476 yards, {400m}, from the house of the Friars Preachers on the Weare, now in Broadmead, north of the Frome which became the Friend’s Meeting House shown on Millerd’s map of 1673, then Bristol Registry office, and now a restaurant at Quaker’s Friars in the Cabot Circus development. The Friar’s conduit from the Paniwell would therefore have to crossed the Frome. Pennywell Lane is south of the Frome so it is extremely unlikely that the Paniwell, Beggars Well and Boiling Wells are one and the same. The Beggars Well was approximately 1.25 miles, {2 km}, from the Boiling Wells.Chiefly from the notes made by Wm. Wycestre. contained in ‘Bristol Past & Present; Nicholls & Taylor.

This seems to be the only map available that marks the location of the Beggars Well, and it is possible that the well is shown in the same location on the 1750 Roque map as a rectangle and on the 1828 Ashmead map as a pool. Beggarswell Close on current maps is nearby.

In 1373 Bristol was awarded county status by Edward III and the charter included the perambulation around the boundary which shows the source of the Key Pipe and the Beggars Well are not the same. Thus the two conduits and the springs are individually named and so were separate and distinct from each other.
………… as far as a great stone fixed near the conduit of the Abbey of Saint Augustine of Bristol on the western part of the same conduit……….as far as a stone fixed on the northern part of the highway which leads from Bristol towards the conduit of the same town called Keypipeconduyt; and from thence directly westwards along a certain long ditch from stone to stone on the southern part of the same ditch as far as a stone fixed near a certain spring called Beggereswelle.
Bristol Charters 8th August, 47 Edward III, [1373].

Assuming the Paniwell was south of the Frome, the conduit would need to have crossed the Frome to the house of the Friars Preachers and it is probable that the crossing is documented here in these two covenants:
Inspeximus by King of a covenant between Mayor and Commonalty of Bristol and the Prior and convent of the begging friars, Bristol, relating to a waterpipe granted to the latter.Covenant dated 16th June 1391.
Ref: Great Red Book Bristol Record Society Publications Vol. VIII The Great Red Book Of Bristol Text (Part II)

However the covenant is almost certainly this licence in 1232 issued to the Friars Preachers of Bristol, the Dominicans, at St. Augustine’s on Broadmead.
Licence for them to make and have a conduit of water from the well of the king’s Berton at Bristol, called, ‘Paniwell,’ to their house.
Ref: Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III 1232 Dec 18th at St Briavels

This licence was confirmed in 1377
Feb 11th at Westminster. Inspeximus and confirmation, in favour of the Friars Preachers of Bristol, of letters patent dated 18 December, 17 Henry III. Calendar of the patent rolls 1232-1247
Ref: Calendar of the patent rolls 48 Edward III 1374-1377 Feb 11th 1377 at Westminster

And again in 1384
Sep 4 at Westminster. Inspeximus and confirmation, in favour of the Friars Preachers of Bristol, of letters patent dated 11 February, 51 Edward III. Inspecting and confirming letters patent dated 18 December, 17 Henry III. Allowing them to make a water conduit from the spring called ‘Pamwell,’ which is from the king’s barton at Bristol, to their house there. For 1/2 mark paid in the hanaper.
Ref: Calendar of the Patent rolls 1381-1385 Richard II v. 2. Great Britain.

And again in 1389 Dated 8th May.
Protection granted by King to the begging friars of Bristol and their aqueduct. From the King’s Berton to their house…. both within the town and gardens… without damage or injury…
Ref: Bristol Record SocietyPublications Vol. VIII The Great Red Book Of Bristol (Part Ii) Folio l77b. 178 a and 178 b.

Pat. 8 Ric, 2. p. 1. m. 25, pro condućtu aquae faci endo a fonte vocat. Penywell; Pat. 1; Ric. 2.
Ref: Notitia monastica, a short history of the religious houses in England and Wales by Tanner,1695

Note: The Hanaper: an office of the English court of chancery in which writs relating to the business of the public, and the returns to them, were anciently kept in a hanaper or hamper.
Ref: Wikipedia

The Key or Quay Pipe is first mentioned in 1376
Oct 1. Walter Derby being Mayor was agreed with Hugh White plumber at his own cost during life to bring the water to the Key Pipe All Saints Pipe and St John’s Pipe at the yearly sum of £10.
Ref:   Bristol Record Society The Great Red Book of Bristol, Bristol Record Society, vol.4 (1933), part I, 115-17

Note: The conduit from the Paniwell is not mentioned. The route of the Quay Pipe is well documented and at no time is there mention of an aqueduct, indeed for a short length it runs parallel to the stream and then runs underground to its location on the Quay. Sturge, shows it crossing the Frome from the Horsefair to Bridewell again demonstrating that the conduit to the Dominican Friars was separate to that of the Quay Pipe.
Ref: Bristol Archives Plan D/34 Section of the Quay pipe from boiling well to St Stephens with a sketch of its course, by Sturge c. 1824

A description of the route of the pipe, dated by J. Evans as 1376.
The Key-Pipe. The water brought to this point of delivery rises in a withy-bed north-eastward of the Orphan-Asylum, lying between the high land of Ashley-Court and the mill-stream that flows from “the Boiling Well,” situated more remotely, on the same level, towards Stoke-House. In this withy-bed are two wells, which overflow into the leaden cistern of a conduit-house. Hence the water runs in pipes of lead along the north bank of the mill-stream, to Lower Ashley-House; there it turns under the bed of the brook, and crosses the fields south-westward, to a small house (mentioned in the Perambulation of 1373) at the entrance of a hamlet, erected on the bank of the river Froom within the last thirty years, called Botany Bay. From this conduit or second head, technically termed by plumbers a horse, the pipe crosses under the turnpike-road leading from Ashley-Place &c. to Baptist-Mills, into Driver’s Fields (so named from a former Keeper of the gaol of Newgate, who held a farm there), proceeding onward under Newfoundland-lane and street, Milk-street, passing close to the White Horse Inn, through the Horse-Fair, over Bride well-Bridge (on which are two branches for supply of the prison and keeper’s house), under Bridewell-lane, the north side of Nelson street to the sugar-house, where it turns across to the pavement flanking St. John’s Church, and so onward, through Quay-street, to the final cistern; whence the water is drawn by two cocks, from which, on account of its superior purity, the casks of nearly all the shipping of the port have been filled.

Ref: A Chronological Outline of the History of Bristol, and the Stranger’s Guide Through Its Streets and Neighbourhood. John Evans. 1824.

Note the 1874 Ashmead Map shows Botany Cottage adjacent to the site of a conduit building near Jubilee Buildings. Now the junction of Gordon Road and Ashley Grove Road and rebuilt as Owen Henry House.

In 1391 we now see the Dominican Friars relinquishing their ownership of their conduit from the Paniwell in return for supply from the Quay Pipe. This again confirms the fact that the Friars conduit was not the Quay Pipe.
Inspeximus by King of a covenant between Mayor and Commonalty of Bristol and the Prior and convent of the begging friars, Bristol, relating to a waterpipe granted to the latter. Latin.
Covenant dated 16th June1391.

Ref: Great Red Book   Bristol Record Society Publications Vol. VIII The Great Red Book Of Bristol (Part Ii) Folio l77b. 178 a and 178 b.

So the question arises who commissioned the Quay Pipe running from the Boiling Wells to the city quayside and when? There is no record in any surviving documents.

An Indenture made at the Guildhall on 26th June, 139I, between Thomas Knap’, Mayor, and the Commonalty of Bristol of the one part, and Nicholas Saltford, Prior, and the Convent of the Dominican Friary of Bristol, with the assent of the Provincial of the Order, of the other part.
The Friars gave the conduit and the spring being allowed to take a feather (a branch pipe) in exchange for the city taking over the expense of the maintenance of the network. Their branch was taken near the Barres,

The Barrs

The Barres, shown on the map of 1480 compiled from William of Worcester’s visit.
Shown in J F Nicholls and John Taylor, Bristol Past and Present
This also shows the location of the Beggars Well.
Unfortunately there is no available map showing the location of the Paniwell.

18th August, IS Richard II (1392)
Letters Patent confirming an Indenture made at the Guildhall on 26th June, 139I, between Thomas Knap’, Mayor, and the Commonalty of Bristol of the one part, and Nicholas Saltford, Prior, and the Convent of the Dominican Friary of Bristol, with the assent of the Provincial of the Order, of the other part.
The Prior and Convent are to have a water-pipe or “feather” of the magnitude of a Swan’s feather, issuing at the Barres from a pipe belonging to the Commonalty, which runs from the vicinity of the mill called ” Glaspelmull ” into the Keypipe of the town. The Friars shall never be required to make any contribution towards the cost of maintaining the town conduit from which their “feather ” issues, but they shall have a sufficient supply of water from the town, flowing into a barrel at the Barres, over which they are to construct a stone canopy. The Mayor and Commonalty are to receive from the Friars in exchange the conduit and spring called Pennywell, and all the lead pipes running there from to the garden of the Convent, which they recently had of the gift of king Richard II, at an annual rent of twelve pence sterling. In the event of any default on the part of the Mayor and Commonalty which may deprive the Friars and their successors of the full use of their “feather,” the Mayor and Commonalty shall, at their own expense, restore to them the conduit, spring and lead pipes in as good condition as when they received them; while in the event of a similar default on the part of the Friars, the” feather,” together with the stone canopy and its appurtenances shall be restored to the Mayor and Commonalty and their successors, and the pipe cut off.
Endorsements: De fistula vocata a fether conductus Aque concessa Fratribus predicatoribus tempore R. Ricardi Secundi. (In a later hand) penny well.

This reference to the Pennywell no doubt refers to “ the conduit, spring and lead pipes” again showing the source of the Key Pipe and the Pennywell are different.

Text from the original Letters Patent, {Patent Rolls of Richard II, vol. 4 1389-1392} preserved in the Archives of the Corporation of Bristol ( C. T.’ s Department) 01252 Consisting of a single membrane measuring 17 X 10 3/4 in., to the folded bottom margin of which the Great Seal (well preserved) is attached by red and blue silk cords braided through holes in the usual manner.
2017 Referenced CC/1/14

Ref: Bristol Charters 1378-1499   Bristol Record SocietyVol. XI
Note the original text available on the Internet cites ‘Penywell’. The Swan’s feather refers to the diameter of pipe being that of the span of a swan’s feather.

Ref: Patent Rolls of Richard II, vol. 4 1389-1392

This reference to a Swan’s feather is also cited in the grant of a feather to St. John’s church from the Carmelites fountain of pure spring water from the Park Street side of Brandon Hill to their House on St. Augustine’s – Bristol Cathedral. A memorandum guaranteeing the grant, with a piece of correctly sized brass pipe attached was given to the Friars equal in diameter to the quill of a swan’s feather. Was the size of the pipe that as shown? If so that would give them a very limited supply so surely it is the diameter of a Swan’s feather, that could be about an inch the similar length of the pipe shown.

Deposited in the Bristol Archive by the church of St. John the Baptist, Bristol1392-memo-pipe-watermark

Unfortunately I cannot find any sketch or photograph of the Quay pipe prior to the Bristol Water illustration below. Even Loxton who left some 2000 sketches of Bristol seemed to have ignored it, however he did leave this illustration of St Johns.

Loxton St John Pipe Deed

The pipes required continual maintenance. This is well documented in the paper: LIQUID ASSETS. It lists the expenditure on the Quay pipe by quarter. It notes a dramatic increase in 1540 The total cost of which was £8 15s 4d, £8.76p, around 94% of the total spending of the of the chamber of Bristol for that year.
Ref: LIQUID ASSETS – An Analysis of the Supply and Control of Water in Bristol in the SixteenthCentury by Jocelyn Davis 2015

St. James’s Fair was granted to the Benedictine monks in the twelfth century by Walter de Cantilupe, Bishop of Worcester, and was one of the largest in the country. By the sixteenth century its profits had become a part of the sheriffs’ income. St. Thomas’s Market and Temple Fairs were established during the sixteenth century, and their income used for the maintenance of the pipes and relief of the poor.

The following extracts from historical documents show the importance of the Quay Pipe and other conduits serving the city.

1375 Approx.
No brewer or ale-wife may take water from any of the conduits or wells of the town, by day or night, for use in brewing, nor carry it or or have it carried off, upon penalty of 40d. as often etc. But they may obtain water at the cisterns of the Avon and Frome, or wherever else it seems convenient to them. All conduits exist to serve the whole community for its daily sustenance…..No waterleder may take water from the Avon or the Frome or from any other location whatsoever unless it is pure and clear, upon penalty of 12d. whenever and as many times, etc.
The Little Red Book of Bristol, Bristol, 1900, vol.2, 229-30 Restrictions on the use of water at Bristol, late 14th century

1376
Oct 1. Walter Derby being Mayor was agreed with Hugh White plumber at his own cost during life to bring the water to the Key Pipe All Saints Pipe and St John’s Pipe at the yearly sum of £10. Arrangement concerning the carrying of water of the Key Pipe and All Saints [conduit]

This is the agreement made at Bristol on 1 October 1376, in the fiftieth year of the reign of King Edward III, between Walter Derby mayor of the town of Bristol, William Somerwell sheriff, William Combe and Thomas Knap bailiffs and chamberlains of the town, and the community, on the one part, and Hugh White plumber and comburgess of the town, on the other part. Viz. that Hugh, throughout his lifetime and at his own cost, shall arrange for the conveyance of all water issuing and flowing from the heads of the conduit called the Key Pipe; that is, from those heads as far as the conduit situated on the Bristol quay.

In the event that the community is failed, or deprived or delayed in receiving water from any of the aforementioned conduits for the period of six days, and it is proven by the mayor, sheriff and bailiffs of the town then in office that this is through the neglect of me, Hugh, then I Hugh by this agreement obligate myself to pay to the community ten pounds for each failure, without any argument. Furthermore I, Hugh, will renovate each year at my own cost one thousand feet of pipe, well-made, sturdy and suitable to accommodate all the water flowing from the aforementioned conduit heads, without any misplacements by which the water flowing there might go elsewhere or in some other way [be lost], rather than only through the new pipes. The which new pipes will each be 20 feet long, and no more; and these new pipes made in the course of a year I, Hugh, will show to the mayor, sheriff and bailiffs of the town then in office (or to their assigns) before they are laid in the ground, so that they can see if there are any defects in those pipes. If any defects are found, they will be corrected as soon as possible by me, Hugh, without any argument.

Also I, Hugh, will begin [laying new pipe] from the heads of the two conduits mentioned above and from the aforementioned cistern, and the new pipes made during a year will be put in the ground securely and appropriately, so that they last indefinitely for the use and benefit of the community, and they will be suitably covered with good, defect-free covering. Those same new pipes for conveying [water] from each of the aforementioned two heads and the cistern as far as the conduits will be laid in locations within the town as per the opinion, recommendation and decision of the mayor, sheriff and bailiffs of the town then in office (or their assigns). I, Hugh, will make as many navels in the conduits as needed, of good quality, suitable and defect-free, at my own costs. So that the town community from this day forward need not pay any additional expenses for the conduits, except only as regards making and repairing the stone heads and cisterns of the conduits. In addition the community will provide the leather heads for the conduits whenever needed, at their own cost. And I, Hugh, will have the heads, pipes, conduits, as well as the cisterns purged and cleaned whenever needed, at my own cost.

Also I, Hugh, will have the heads and conduits lined in lead in a suitable manner and defect-free, at my own cost. Moreover I, Hugh, by this agreement wish and agree on behalf of myself and my executors that, in the event I do not make and supply each year a thousand feet of new pipe and lay them properly in the ground, in the manner indicated above, so that the three conduits are fully equipped with new pipes, then each year that I may be found in default I will incur a penalty of £10 payable to the community of the town at Michaelmas, without any argument. Also, when the pipes have to be examined or repaired, I, Hugh, by this document agree to install at my own cost suitable stone paving on all ground where the pavement is dug up or torn up, both in the town and in the suburbs, whenever necessary, from this day forward for as long as I live. By this document I, Hugh – on behalf of myself, my heirs and my executors – guarantee the good and faithful undertaking, in the manner indicated above, of such things as are agreed, by subjecting to distraint and seizure by the mayor, sheriff, bailiffs and community my lands and tenements, wherever I may hold them within the county of Bristol or into whoever’s hands they come, along with all my goods and chattels, moveable and unmoveable, wherever they may be found. In return for the good and faithful undertaking of such things as agreed, in the manner written above, we the mayor, sheriff, bailiffs and community have granted to Hugh an annual rent of ten pounds due from certain tenements situated on the bridge at Bristol. Hugh or his assigns may have, hold and receive from year to year that annual rent of ten pounds due from the aforementioned tenements for the term of his life, according to the intent and effect of an indenture made between us and him and on the basis of the agreements written above. In testimony to which we, the mayor and community, have set our common seal to the part of this indenture that will remain with Hugh, and Hugh has set his seal to the other part of this indenture that will remain with us, the mayor and community. Drawn up at Bristol on the above date.
Ref: Patent Rolls of 18th August, 15 Richard II 1392
Bristol charters 1378-1499 p 188

1427
Thomas Michell left 6s 8d to repair the common pipe, called ‘le Keypype’.
Ref: The Great Red Book of Bristol, Bristol Record Society, vol.4 (1933), part I, 115-17.

1432
“Glasspool Mill, a watermill of this name, annual value 5s, held of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, as of his manor Barton Regis by Bristol, service unknown.”
Ref: Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem: 11-15 Henry VI (1432-1437).

1480
At the Key, in the large triangular space, there is in the middle of the said triangle a very beautiful freestone building, round and tall, built of richly worked freestone, in which is a water-conduit of lead leading from a spring of which the main source is at ..
Note Worcestre doesn’t cite the source of the spring presumably to add at later date.
Ref: Wm Worcester The Topography of Medieval Bristol. Bristol Record Society Publication Vol 51

1514
The office of Waterbaylye is graunted to Willyam Walker plomer condycyonally that he shall sufficiently kepe the condit of the Key pipe as he did before, taking nothing for his Iabor of any olde werke for whiche he had yerely before tyme. And also he shall bere yerely to the Chambre for the same office .
Ref: The Ordinances Of Bristol, 1506-1598 Bristol (England), 1990 Bristol Record Society Publications Vol. XlI Folio 4v

1534-1543
Conduits in Bristol “The Key Pipe, with a very fair castellet.”
Ref: The itinerary of John Leland the Antiquary Vol the Seventh, the first part.

c.1540
When Leland — Henry the Vlll’s antiquary — beheld the Pipe, it possessed a ” faire ” canopy, the head of Momus, the god of laughter, fittingly forming its sculptured ornament- Sixty years ago men and women suffering from gout or rheumatism were to be seen bathing their legs in the cooling waters as the waters were reputed to have curative powers including scurvy and kindred sailor’s complaints.      
Ref: Bristol Waterworks Company 1846-1946 – Frederick C. Jones – 1946 -Page 12

1558
Five shillings was paid for working on the Key pipe to augment the water from St John’s pipe
Ref: LIQUID ASSETS – An Analysis of the Supply and Control of Water in Bristol in the SixteenthCentury by Jocelyn Davis 2015

1574
The quay pipe was supplied from an abundant spring, the so-called Boiling Well at Ashley; but a large portion of the long conduit was unprotected, and the Chamberlain was incessantly called upon to remove the obstructions in covered pipe, caused by the bodies of dead cats. Thus,in December, 1574, he [ the chamberlain] enters : —” Paid for taking three cats out of the key pipe, where one was two yards long, five days, 5s. 6d.”
Ref: Sixteenth-Century Bristol (Originally Published Under The Title Of “The Corporation Of Bristol In The Olden Time”) By John Latimer

1579
Soon after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1579 ‘Glass Mill’ was acquired by marriage to George Winter esq. of Dyrham Park. In 1731 a distiller, George Bridges, bought the mill, ‘Glafsmills’ from Andrew Hooke.
Ref: stwerburghs.org

1597
The Exor. of Mr. Kobert Kitchin, Alderman. The said exor. gaue this yeare 20 marks towards the bewtifyinge of the key pipe.
Ref: The maire of Bristowe is calendar By Robert Ricart Edited By Lucy Toulmin Smith

1601
The Quay-Conduit and All-Saints’ Cistern rebuilt.
Ref: Bristol Past and Present – Volume 1 – Page 265 James Fawckner Nicholls

1643
It seems almost like a prevision of its destined use that these four good men as they sat therein should, amongst other methods for employing the poor, have devoted 20 marks to the beautifying of the Quay pipe that brought the precious water to the city” to provide employment for the poor.
Ref: Bristol Past and Present – Volume 1 – Page 265 James Fawckner Nicholls

1645
“Item paid the 10th day [of October, 1645] 6li. ros. unto Robert Redwood for halfe a tonne of lead to furnishe Wilkenson the plumber to make the pipes which bringe the water to the Key & Backe, which pipes were cutt & stollen during the Parliament Leager before the Towne.”
Ref:   Bristol Record Society Vol. VI The Deposition Books Of Bristol Vol 1 1643-1647

From Sept 1646
Plumber for venting the pipes f I 6 8 per annum.
Keeper of the Key & key pipe £r 8 8 per annum.

Ref:   Bristol Record Society Vol. VI The Deposition Books Of Bristol Vol 1 1643-1647

1654
By a magisterial ordinance, all the conduits in the city were kept closed through-out the same day, and the parish constables were required to lay informations against persons carrying water to their homes, in order that the culprits might be brought up on Mondays and duly punished.
Ref: The annals of Bristol in the seventeenth century by John Latimer

1658
October 1st, a survey of the conduit head (at Breene’s mill) which supplied the Quay and Back pipes was ordered, there being a leakage.
Ref: Bristol Past And Present By J. F. Nicholls

1659
The Council being informed in October that the head of the conduit near Green’s Mill, supplying the Quay and Back Pipes with water, was in a defective state, and the supply much impeded, a committee was appointed to make the necessary reparations.
Ref: Sixteenth-Century Bristol. By John Latimer

1660
In the civic audit-book of the year is the following entry dated May 10th :
” Charges for putting the wine in the Key Pipe at the proclaiming of the King, 4s.1Od.”

Ref: The annals of Bristol in the seventeenth century by John Latimer

1679
The nuisances arising from the unprotected state of the reservoir supplying the Quay Pipe were mentioned in page 289. The Chamber got rid of the dead cats this year by building a Conduit-house at the spring, at a cost of £154.
Ref: The annals of Bristol in the seventeenth century by John Latimer

1698
There are 12 gates to ye Citty, there is a very Large Conduit by ye Key finely Carv’d, all stone, this Conveys the water about ye town but all ye water has a Brackish taste.” 
Ref: Celia Fiennes, Through England on a Side Saddle

1717
Another step in the same direction was taken in 1717, when the fish market, held in the middle of High Street, was removed to the Quay, near St. Stephen’s Church. To make way for it, ” the old Conduit was taken down, and a new one of a lesser bulk erected, somewhat nearer to the Aven “Ref: John Latimer. Annals Of Bristol In The Eighteenth Century.

1718
The fish market in High street was at this time removed to the open triangular piece of ground on the north side of St. Stephen’s church, and the conduit which stood there was removed to the site on the Quay which it now occupies.
Ref: Bristol Past And Present By J. F. Nicholls

1748
The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748 sometimes called the Treaty of Aachen, ended the War of the Austrian Succession and the peace was declared at several places around the city including at the Quay Pipe.
Ref: Memoirs historical and topographical of Bristol and it’s neighbourhood; from the earliest period down to the present time

1770
The stone canopy was discarded and a fountain-head with cocks and a trough set up at the Tontine warehouse near Eagle house and the junction of St. Stephen’s Street and Colston Avenue.
A report of Commissioners of Enquiry notes at Quay St. the cistern was open to the public from seven to ten in the morning and three to seven in the evening.

Ref: Bristol Past And Present By J. F. Nicholls

1770
The ground at present occupied by Sir R. Vaughan & Co.’s ware houses, and the dwelling-house adjoining, was the Fish-Market, with the Conduit or Key-Pipe at the end of it, towards the river, as described by William of Worcester, in 1534, ” a fair castellette, &c.” (One of its ornaments, a head of Momus, is in the possession of Mr. Miller, at his Nursery, King’s Parade.)
Ref: A Chronological Outline of the History of Bristol, and the Stranger’s Guide Through Its Streets and Neighbourhood. John Evans. 1824

Note: William of Worcester, in 1480 writes:
“The triangular street off The Key, in which place is the said great triangular space, where a fair water-conduit, built of freestone , is situated for the convenience of the town”
Ref: William Worcestre: The Topography of Medieval Bristol

1782
The Conduit-house at the head of the Quay taken down, and the Fish-market there removed to Union-street.
Ref: A Chronological Outline of the History of Bristol, and the Stranger’s Guide Through Its Streets and Neighbourhood. John Evans. 1824

1831
Questions of public health were never discussed, apart from once in 1831 when the Mayor and a ldermen were appointed to the local Board of Health during the cholera epidemic.

Pressure on the water supply was steadily increasing, and During the cholera epidemic “although the corporation did maintain the Quay Pipe there was a large measure of indifference to the lamentable inadequacy and bad condition of the supply.”
Ref: Bristol and Its Municipal Government, 1820-1851 By Graham William Arthur Bush   Bristol Record Society publication

1845
The Quay Pipe, or Conduit.—The water for this obtained from a withy bed, on the lias district of Horfield, north-eastward from the Orphan Asylum, between the high land of Ashley Court and the mill stream flowing from the Boiling-well. After passing a considerable distance, it is received into a cistern at the bottom of Quay-street. Open to the public from seven to ten in the morning, and from three to seven in the evening.
Ref: First [and Second] Report [s] of the Commissioners for Inquiring into the State of Large Towns and Populous Districts Vol 1

1863
Bristol Board of Health 30 Oct 1863 The Quay Pipe was “in good repair”.
Ref: Bristol Miscellany

1864
In the great drought of 1864 the Mendip springs almost dried but 200,000 gallons or nearly one mega-litrse per day (Ml/d) still flowed from the Boiling Spring.
Ref: The annals of Bristol in the nineteenth century” Latimer

1880?
The supply from the Boiling Spring to the Quay Pipe,by then diverted to Bristol United Brewery in Lewin’s Mead, was reported to be yielding 2 Ml/d. As to the old sources, the United Brewery site has been cleared and rebuilt on, and the fate of the former Quay Pipe is obscure. The Boiling Spring itself was still yielding 2 to 3 Ml/d in 1897 (Pearson, 1897) and in the early 1960’s it was considered, but not adopted, as a supplementary source for the public supply.
Ref: Proceedings of the Bristol Naturalists’ Society Vol 46 1986.

1800 tithe and os wells

The previous maps suggest the Horfield Brook once flowed into the boiling wells, however currently this is not the case. The brook goes underground by Watercress Farm and emerges further down the lane. The Boiling Wells flow into a culvert that feeds the mill stream shown in the 1840 tithe map. The brook on the east side of Boiling Wells lane is flowing faster than the feed from the Boiling Wells and is presumably the Horfield brook.

The Boiling Wells were celebrated for their pure water. Running the Horfield brook into them would have exposed the Quay Pipe supply to probable contamination over its considerable length from a number of sources, including agricultural and animal waste.

Additionally the 1900 maps show a sewage works feeding the brook a short distance from the Boiling Wells. When this engineering took place is not obvious. It may have been influence by the construction of the railway.

Boiling_Wells_1953 2004

The railways have already divided the valley, but the elaborate water-works and the site of the watermill which used to harness the energy of local streams can be seen. Most of the watercourse is now culverted, but there are exposed sections under the church path and in Mina Road Park.”

“Much of St Werburgh’s is built on the floodplain of the River Frome and until the middle of the 20th century flooding was a regular occurrence, bringing with it disruption and ill health. In 1962 the St Werburgh’s section of the Northern Stormwater Interceptor was completed. This was an enormous feet of engineering that involved building a 16ft (5m) diameter tunnel under North Bristol.  The process of tunnelling also involved using explosives. It is said locally that there were two other effects of the underground blasting. One was the damage to the foundations of the house on the west side of Watercress Road so that they needed to be demolished (this land is now part of the City Farm). The other was to disrupt the natural conduits in the geology beneath the Boiling Wells spring so that the flow was much diminished.”

The pipe head on the corner of St Stephens street on the Centre.
It was a civic enterprise and was noted in the fifteen century for its particularly fine (pulcherrima) conduit house on the key, ‘sumptuously worked’ in freestone.

quay-pipe

At the time of Henry VIII it, the Quay Pipe, “possessed a “faire” canopy, the head of Momus the God of laughter fittingly forming its sculptured ornament.”

There were often restrictions in many cities on the use of water from the various springs and conduits. In Bristol in the late 14th century it was decreed that no brewer or ale-wife may take water from any of the conduits or wells of the town, by day or night, for use in brewing, nor carry it or or have it carried off, upon penalty of 40d. All conduits exist to serve the whole community for its daily sustenance.

Men and women suffering from gout or rheumatism were to be seen bathing their legs in the cooling waters as the waters were reputed to have curative powers including scurvy and kindred sailor’s complaints.

It is probable that Cabot’s ships in 1476 were provisioned with water from the Quay Pipe.

In 1427 Thomas Michell left 6s 8d to repair the common pipe, called ‘le Keypype’.

Sometime between 1534 and 1543 John Leland notes: “The Key Pipe, with a very fair castellet.”

William Worcestre: The Topography of Medieval Bristol
At the Key, in the large triangular space, there is in the middle of the said triangle a very beautiful freestone building, round and tall, built of richly worked freestone, in which is a water-conduit of lead leading from a spring of which the main source is at

John Latimer. Annals of Bristol late 17th century, published 1900
Concerning the Sabbath. All the conduits in the city were kept closed through- out the same day, and the parish constables were required to lay informations against persons carrying water to their homes, in order that the culprits might be brought up on Mondays and duly punished.

The Council being informed in October that the head of the conduit near Green’s Mill, supplying the Quay and Back Pipes with water, was in a defective state, and the supply much impeded, a committee was appointed to make the necessary reparations. (Green’s Mill, of which some remains still exist, was situated about 200 yards to the south of the present Ashley Hill railway station.)
Note Ashley Hill railway station was decommissioned in 1964.

1558 Five shillings was paid for working on the Key pipe

In 1574 workmen were paid 5s 6d to remove a stoppage in the flow, taking out three cats from the Quay pipe, where one was 2 yards long.

Latimer. The Annals Of Bristol [1679-80]
The nuisances arising from the unprotected state of the reservoir supplying the Quay Pipe were mentioned in page 289. The Chamber got rid of the dead cats this year by building a Conduit-house at the spring, at a cost of £164.

The maire of Bristowe is kalendar
1597. Exor. of Mr. Kobert Kitchin, Alderman. The said exor. gaue this yeare 20 marks towards the bewtifyinge of the key pipe.

Bristol Past and Present James Fawckner Nicholls, John Taylor
1643 It seems almost like a prevision of its destined use that these four good men as they sat therein should, amongst other methods for employing the poor, have devoted 20 marks to the beautifying of the Quay pipe that brought the precious water to the city” to provide employment for the poor.

Celia Finnes 1698 Tour: Shrewsbury to Bristol.
There are 12 gates to ye Citty, there is a very Large Conduit by ye Key finely Carv’d, all stone, this Conveys the water about ye town but all ye water has a Brackish taste.”

John Latimer. Annals Of Bristol In The Eighteenth Century.
Another step in the same direction was taken in 1717, when the fish market, held in the middle of High Street, was removed to the Quay, near St. Stephen’s Church. To make way for it, ” the old Conduit was taken down, and a new one of a lesser bulk erected, somewhat nearer to the Aven “

The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748 sometimes called the Treaty of Aachen, ended the War of the Austrian Succession and the peace was declared at several places around the city including at the Quay Pipe.

1770 The stone canopy was discarded and a fountain-head with cocks and a trough set up at the Tontine warehouse near Eagle house and the junction of St. Stephen’s Street and Colston Avenue.

A report  of Commissioners of Enquiry notes at Quay St. the cistern was open to the public from seven to ten in the morning  and three to seven in the evening.

In 1831 during the cholera epidemic “although the corporation did maintain the Quay Pipe there was a large measure of indifference to the lamentable inadequacy and bad condition of the supply.”

In 1863 the Quay Pipe was  “in good repair”.  Water was last drawn from the pipe in 1932.

quay-pipe-bristol-archive-picbox3bint29a-watermark
quay-pipes-at-bristol-water-picbox3bint29b-watermark
The old spouts and ironwork of the Quay Pipe survive at the Bristol Water museum at Blagdon.

In 1936 the pipe head was destroyed for redevelopment

The plaque of the location of the Quay Pipe, Eagle House, St. Stephen’s Street.
quay-pipe-plaque
From A Chronological Outline of the History of Bristol, and the Stranger’s Guide Through Its Streets and Neighbourhood by John Evans 1824

The Key-Pipe.
The water brought to this point of delivery rises in a withy-bed north-eastward of the Orphan-Asylum, lying between the high land of Ashley Court and the mill-stream that flows from the Boiling Well situated more remotely on the same level towards Stoke–House. In this withy bed are two wells, which overflow into the leaden cistern of a conduit house. Hence the water runs in pipes of lead along the north bank of the mill stream to Lower Ashley House; there it turns under the bed of the brook and crosses the fields south-westward, to a small house, (mentioned in the Perambulation of 1373) at the entrance of a hamlet, erected on the bank of the river Froom within the last thirty years, called Botany Bay. From this conduit or second head, technically termed by plumbers, a horse, the pipe crosses under the turnpike road leading from Ashley Place &c to Baptist-Mills, into Driver’s Fields (so named from a former Keeper of the gaol of Newgate, who held a farm there.) passing close to the White Horse Inn, through the Horse-Fair, over Bridewell Bridge (on which are two branches for supply of the prison and keeper’s house) under Bridewell-lane, the north side of Nelson street to the sugar-house where it turns across to the pavement flanking St. John’s Church, and so onward through Quay-Street, to the final cistern; whence the water is drawn by two cocks, from which, on account of its superior purity, the casks of nearly all the shipping of the port have been filled.

This plan shows the well head near the Railway Tavern but there is no record of a Pub here, though there was the South Wales Railway Tavern in St Werburghs, now “The Farm”. Curious!

sturge-plan-2

In this picture you can just about see someone collecting water from the Quay Pipe on the extreme left of the picture at the foot of the building. This suggests the apparatus is that on display in the Bristol Water museum at Blagdon, pictured above.

1826-collecting-water-from-the-quay-pipe_3

Rowbotham, View from the Stone Bridge, Head of the Quay 1826
Courtesy of Bristol City Museum.

The City Conduits and Wine

As in some of the other conduits, the water in the Quay Pipe was substituted for wine to celebrate.

1660
In the civic audit-book of the year is the following entry dated May 10th: ” Charges for putting the wine in the Key Pipe at the proclaiming of the King, 4s.10d.” This is the only known record as to the date of the ceremony.
Ref: The annals of Bristol in the seventeenth century, John Latimer

1685
Once again as James II ascended the throne the coronation of the new sovereigns, in April, was celebrated with great rejoicing. Salutes were fired from 114 great guns in the Marsh. Two hogsheads of claret (costing 11 5s.) ” Caused the four conduits to run with wine.” ……. James, Duke of York, succeeded his brother the late King, and “was proclaimed in Bristol by Giles Merrick, the Sheriff, the trumpets sounding; and every place in Bristol, where he was proclaimed was hung with scarlet. He was proclaimed by the name of James II on Sunday 18 Feb 1684-5, and was by order again proclaimed on Monday following. April 23, he and his Queen Mary were crowned at Westminster with very great splendor ; and the day was kept in Bristol with all signs of joy and gladness. All shops were shut up; the Mayor and the Council and the companies in right order went to the College; 52 great guns were three times fired, beside many guns in many ships at the Key. The conduits ran with wine very plentifully, and the evening ended with bonefires &c. The bells all over the city rang for joy, even the tavern bells.”
Ref: The annals of Bristol in the seventeenth century, John Latimer

1697
Peace concluded at Ryswick Oct. 29, proclaimed at the High Cross, St. Peter’s and Temple Cross, St. Thomas and the Quay Pipes. The conduits were set running with wine. There was a great display of colours on the shipping, and on the tops of houses of the principal citizens, but very few of the churches had colours on their towers and steeples.
Ref: The Annals of Bristol in the Eighteenth Century, John Latimer

1702
The accession of Queen Anne was proclaimed early in March 1702, with the ceremonies customary on such occasions. The disbursements of the Corporation amounted to £21, about £7 of which was ” for wine drunk at the Raven “; £2 for ” wine at the Bull,” and £6 for ” wine that the constables drunk.” Her Majesty was crowned on the 23rd April, amidst much popular rejoicing;

And for a certain time the conduits, decorated with garlands, ran wine for the delectation of such of the mob as could get at them.
Ref: The Annals of Bristol in the Eighteenth Century, John Latimer

1820
The death of George III occurred on the 29th January. The proclamation of his successor took place five days afterwards, and as no such event had occurred within the memory of nineteen-twentieths of the population, it excited some interest.   A procession was then formed, the mayor (Mr. W. Fripp, junr.) and sheriffs taking their places in “a splendid cai*, carried by twenty-four men,” and proclamation was made at the customary sites. At three of these – St. Peter’s pump, St. Thomas’s conduit, and the Quay pipe – a hogshead of wine was distributed to the populace, and four hogsheads of porter were given away at other places. Altogether, the Corporation spent £279 over the ceremony.

On the same day whereon the late King deceased, Queen Anne was proclaimed in London; and {a) on March 12 she was pro- claimed in Bristol by the Sheriffs with great solemnity. “and in divers parts of the city wine freely ran for any, that could catch it.

The peace of Aix-la-chapelle was concluded and signed 1th Oct’ 1748: but the merchants that their interests were not sufficiently secured made great complaints. The peace, however, was not proclaimed until (5th Feb’ 1748-9, the proclamation being so long delayed for the sake of preparing illuminations and fireworks, which were very splendid not only in England, but in France and Holland also. On the day above mentioned, the Mayor, Aldermen, and Common-council-men, in their scarlet gowns, preceded by their officers, city music, drums, &c, attended by the merchants, and followed by near 50 coaches, performed the usual ceremony. Peace was proclaimed in High-street, where the High Cross formerly stood; next at St. Peter’s Cross; next at Temple Cross; next at St. Thomas Pipe; next at King William’s Statue in Queen’s-square; next at the Quay Pipe; and lastly, before the door of the Exchange. Wine ran at several places among the populace, and the whole was conducted with grandeur, solemnity, and good order.

Ref: Memoirs historical and topographical of Bristol and it’s neighbourhood; from the earliest period down to the present time”

1702
Note I have added this fuller extract that shows the ceremony attached to such occasions as this, the Accession of Queen Anne.

There was a grand corporate procession to the Cathedral, a novel feature amongst the inevitable civic functionaries, city companies, school children, and bands of music, being ” twenty four young maidens, dressed in night rails and white hoods, with fans in their hands, being led, as their captain, by a comely young woman, clad in a close white dress, wearing on her head a perriwig and plumed hat, carrying in her hand a half-pike to the admiration of all spectators. Moreover, there were twenty four young damsels in sarsnet hoods, armed with gilded bows and arrows; also the principal citizens’ daughters wearing branches of laurel, two of them supporting a gorgeous crown; and finally Madame Mayoress, and the wives of the aldermen and common councillors, splendidly apparelled, with the city music sweetly playing before them. The streets, churches, houses, and ships were plentifully decorated. The great guns in the Marsh fired numberless salutes.

And for a certain time the conduits, decorated with garlands, ran wine for the delectation of such of the mob as could get at them.

In the evening a party of young men, wearing ” furbelowd ” { a sort of Ruff } white shirts over their clothes, led into the streets an equal number of young women in white waistcoats, red petticoats, night head- dresses, and laced hats. These strangely accoutred revellers were followed by other men, bearing an effigy of the Poppa, arrayed in glaring robes and gilded tiara, and surrounded by unsaintly counsellors with masks and croziers. Having paraded this mockery to their hearts’ content, the populace flung it into one of the numerous bonfires amidst loud acclamations. The Corporation spent £53 2s. 10d, over the day’s rejoicings, of which more than three-fifths went for wine, £7 19s. for gunpowder, 2s. for a pound of tobacco, and 7s. 6d. for “hanging the High Cross.”
Ref: The Annals of Bristol in the Eighteenth Century, John Latimer

After proclaiming the new king at the site of the High Cross,….. A procession was then formed …., and proclamation was made at the customary sites. At three of these — St. Peter’s pump, St. Thomas’s conduit, and the Quay pipe — a hogshead of wine was distributed to the populace, and four hogsheads of porter were given away at other places. Altogether, the Corporation spent £279 over the ceremony. Drinking appears to have been thought the most appropriate manner of Inaugurating the new reign.
Ref: The annals of Bristol in the nineteenth century” Latimer

Suggested Further reading.

LIQUID ASSETS An Analysis of the Supply and Control of Water in Bristol in the Sixteenth Century, based on entries in the Mayor’s Audit Books 1532-1574 by Jocelyn Davis

www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/History/Maritime/Sources/2015madavis.pdf

The history and development of a 13c lead water conduit – The Carmelite’s Friary Pipe, Bristol England Julian Lee Jones.

http://www.academia.edu/4462429/Ashgate_submission_History_Development_of_a_13c_lead_water_conduit_The_Carmelite_Friary_Pipe_Bristol

Fleming, P. (2013) Time, space and power in later medieval Bristol. Working Paper. University of the West of England. Available from:

http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/22171

Advertisements