SOUTHEND WATERWORKS COMPANY
An illustrated description of the
works at Langford, Maldon
As written in 1948
The Southend Waterworks Company was founded
as a private undertaking in 1865, the original works for the supply
of the little town consisting of a well and pumping station in
Milton Road and a reservoir in Cambridge Road, Southend. In 1871 the works were taken over by the
Southend Waterworks Company Limited and in 1879 the Company was
incorporated as a Statutory Undertaking.
Progressive developments resulted in
extensions of the area of supply which by 1924 had attained its
present total of 160 square miles bounded on the north by the River
Crouch, on the south by the River Thames and extending westward as
far as the outskirts of Shenfield. In addition bulk supplies are
provided to neighbouring districts on the northern fringe of the
statutory area so that the inhabitants of some 200 square miles of
Essex are now dependant upon the Company for their water.
Increases in demand were met by sinking
additional wells and boreholes so that "ultimately thirty-six such
sources were spaced over the area of supply. They were sunk through
the London Clay to draw upon the water contained in the sands of the
Lower London Tertiary Deposits. Many of the borings were made deeper
than the Tertiaries and penetrate a considerable distance into the
chalk. The yields generally were poor having regard to the capital
expenditure involved and the prolonged and increasing draught upon
the strata over the whole area resulted in gradual reductions from
the initial yields.
The increasing difficulty of obtaining
sufficient water in this area, from underground local sources
resulted in consideration being given to a project for abstracting
water from some of the Essex rivers.
In 1921 a joint scheme with the South Essex
Waterworks Company to take water from the River Stour did not obtain
the approval of Parliament, therefore the River Chelmer with its
tributary the Ter and the River Blackwater were selected by the
Southend Company as being capable of meeting the anticipated water
demands for many years ahead.
A Bill was lodged in Parliament in the
Session of 1924 and received the Royal Assent in August of that
year. The construction of the Langford Works, which are described in
detail hereafter, was sufficiently advanced by August 1927 for water
derived from the River Chelmer to be pumped into supply. From that
date until 1945 ninety-six per cent of the water supplied was pumped
Most of the wells and boreholes have been
maintained as reserve sources. They were of considerable potential
value during the war and have provided useful additional supplies
during the periods of high peak demand experienced each summer.
Since the requirements of the area are nearing the capacity of the
present river works advantage has been taken of the electrical power
now available to modernise eight of the stations by the installation
of automatically operated submersible borehole pumps and the
conversion of others is in progress.
Distribution works in the area of supply
include nine service reservoirs, five towers and five re-pumping or
booster stations raising water from lower to higher zones of
pressure. Five hundred and ninety miles of trunk and service mains
varying from 30" in diameter downwards convey water to the