David N. Williams.
Member of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Managers.
Chartered Water and Environmental Manager.
DNW at Die Blauwe Kiosk his favourite Oyster Bar in Ghent, Belgium. only open Saturday and Sunday at the Flower Market.
My long career in water almost never happened, as at the age of 2 he was forgotten and left in a bath at nursery, causing acute pneumonia. Sent from Hospital to die at home, I was nursed back to health by his family. One would have thought this experience would have instilled a life long aversion to water. However with a lake and river a few hundred yards from home, most of my younger time was spent paddling, fishing and falling in either. Although not able to swim, I jumped in the river to save a boy from drowning, and was thanked by the boys mother some 10 years later!!
The White Coat Days
My career in water supply started as a Laboratory Assistant, on the 3rd March 1958, aged 16, at the Langford Laboratory of the Southend Waterworks Co. I worked predominantly at Langford apart from 8 years at Hanningfield Laboratory, and short spells at Sandford Mill Laboratory. A short period prior to becoming Manager at Langford, was spent as Company Emergency Planning Officer for Essex and Suffolk. Also advising and supervising Gibraltar on water quality, and an assessment of treatment requirements in Borneo and Malaysia. I had an uncle who worked for Chelmsford Rural District Water Service and a Great Grandfather who worked for 23 years in the early 1900’s installing the water supply to Moscow. Since retiring as Manager of the Langford Treatment Works of the Essex and Suffolk Water Company on the 26th April 1996,aged 55, As a Scientist I have given numerous talks mainly about Water Treatment and Supply. Although centred on Essex, they have included details of the Water Supply to Rome between 350 BC to 420 AD , Gibraltar, and the local eel trade at Heybridge Basin which existed for 40 years, from 1928 to 1968. During the 1970’s I was awarded the accolade of Chartered Water and Environmental Manager, of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environment Managers, for my research on Parthenogenetic Chironomids, in Water Systems.
I started work as a Laboratory Assistant at Langford Laboratory on the 3rd March 1958, catching a bus from Chelmsford. Fortunately the bus passed by the works entrance, and the driver slowed down to allow me to jump off. This was repeated in the evening when I had to jump on the bus. Alternatively I could have walked 200 yds to the nearest bus stop. I was paid the magnificent sum of £220 per annum for a six day week and no overtime payments. Apart from the Chief Chemist Jack Slack, the lab was staffed by Jean (Bunny) Rogers and Heather Clarke who worked as Secretary/ Lab Assistant. My initial training for 6 months was in Bacteriology, now called Microbiology, then Chemical analysis. Our prime function was to test the quality of the River and Reservoir water entering the plant and ensure the treatment was effective, by dosing the correct quantity of treatment chemicals. There was a statutory limit on water hardness of 150mg/l as CaCo3 which applied to all the water leaving the plant and being supplied to Maldon and Southend. The Company could be fined for every day we exceeded the limit. Once working on the Chemical Analysis I did not revert to the Bacteriology apart from Holiday cover and alternate weekends. I acquired a motorcycle, a Douglas 350cc flat twin for £10 and used that to get to work, shortly followed by a 1934 Morris 8 car bought from George Cook, a filter attendant on the Treatment Plant, for £20.
Car similar to my first Morris
I arranged for my one armed uncle to tow me home from Goldhanger to Chelmsford. It was in good condition for its age and as soon as I passed my test I drove that to work . At the same time I was bought a small green minivan by the Water Company, and given the task of visiting all consumers who had made a complaint about the water quality, usually smell or cloudy water. This also covered industrial queries, like the Gordons Gin Factory, Hic ! The area I had to cover was also that supplied by Hanningfield Treatment Plant. Stretching from Basildon in the west to Foulness Island in the east, and from the Thames in the south to the Mountnessing in the north. The Company General Manager, Peter Francis was very concious of the Consumers opinion regarding the Company. The Treatment Plant and grounds were kept in pristine condition for the many visitors we had. Men working at Head Office always had to wear jackets and ties unless specifically told otherwise and Ladies had to be unmarried and always wear stockings and no trousers. When his Secretary wished to get married, the rule was changed and ladies received £10 for every year they had worked for the Company as a wedding present, but not the men !!. He visited Langford fortnightly to inspect the buildings and grounds. When he died, his funeral service was held at the Chapel of Hampton Court Palace, of which I was notified by his family.
Jack Slack was more relaxed although he did not approve of Bunny wearing trousers, which she always did, hence she was not sent out to visit customers. My second car was an Armstrong Siddely Sapphire 3.5 litre drop head, bought for £25. This was an impulse buy, and was expensive to run. Having taken a lady friend to a wedding with the hood down, on the way her smart hairdo was ruined. I sold the car for £40 and bought a Ford prefect. I was first married at Langford Church in 1963, to Diane, and lived initially at Mill Cottage, Langford, adjacent to the Pumping Station. My garage was what is now the Langford Parish Hall. I was also delegated the position of Secretary to Langford Tennis Club, which played opposite Mill Cottage, despite not having played tennis. The members, who taught me to play, also taught me badminton in winter. Fortunately the members were patient and taught me to an acceptable level. Living in Langford, I acquired a canoe and paddled up the Blackwater, and also on Langford Cut which was isolated from the main canal by the Sewage Pipes from Chelmsford crossing it at top water level. I was also aware of the annual migration of elvers up the rivers and occasional salmon. When the Essex River Authority learned of Salmon in the Blackwater they installed a fish ladder similar to the eel ladder recently installed. I remarried in 1982 to Eileen, when I had three children from my first marriage, Paul, Simon, and Alison, and a stepson Robert. Eileen and I then had Leo and moved to Maldon in 1983 via Tollesbury and Tiptree, where we still live. Sadly none of them have followed me into the water industry as a career.
It was THIS Big
Hosting, as Chairman of Maldon District Council, a reception at the Langford Museum of Power in 2014, for the Mayors and Chairmen of the Town and Parish Councils within the Maldon District.
Jack Slack was always inspiring the staff to engage in research allied to the water treatment, he published numerous scientific papers, based upon the work under his direction, and Langford Laboratory acquired an enviable reputation.
As I became more involved in research and treatment problems, we engaged more staff for the routine analysis. Angela Ferriby, Linda George, Linda Talmadge, Catriona McDougall, Mike Shelley, Guy Mowat, Valerie Wright, Philip Hitchins, John Devall, Roy Mitcham., not in that particular order. There was always an amicable collaborative atmosphere between the staff. Also during the late 1960’s Vange Treatment plant at Basildon, was constructed to make use of the Vange and Fobbing boreholes by softening and blending, requiring my presence at least twice a week, to ensure the treatment and monitoring equipment was functioning correctly, it being an unmanned works. This was followed by the reconstruction of Langford Treatment Plant relocated to a site adjacent to the Storage reservoirs in 1971. Later in the 1990’s Ozonisation and Activated carbon filters were added to remove the pesticides and herbicides which were being widely used in agriculture. Perversely the active chemicals in Slug Pellets are not removed. This resulted in a large reduction in Chlorine dosing, leading to the removal of the 50 tonnes storage capacity. Major problems in the distribution system also occupied much of my time. Following numerous complaints of discoloured water, from the cast iron mains,/ iron coagulant. Also numerous complaints of worms which were in fact Chironomid Larvae. Both entailing much night time flushing in the distribution system and research into the causes, on which I spent the majority of my time. In the late 1980’s There was a major reorganisation of the Company with staff numbers reduced to less than 50% . The regional laboratories were closed in favour of a Central laboratory at Hanningfield . Lab staff numbers were reduced from 25 to 12. I was designated Scientific Officer ( Admin and Marketing) followed by Emergency Planning Officer for the Essex and Suffolk Company. I was then promoted to Manager of the Langford Treatment Works Site.
I terminated my career employed as the Manager of the Langford Treatment Works, by resignation, leaving on my 55th birthday the 26th April 1996. My wife being discovered with reduced sight in one eye which was identified as a Macular hole in the retina leaving only peripheral vision in that eye, and doubtful prognosis of the other eye.
Poem penned by my colleague David Walker
Blackwater Estuary Mud Analysis for proposed Maldon Barrage. adjacent to Osea Island . ( Not proceeded with) Preparatory work for a large Reservoir to the South between Maldon, of 8,400 million gallons costing approx. £11 million pounds. (Not Proceeded with) Major Parthenogenetic Chironomid Infestation, of water mains between Maldon and Southend. Treatment required for removal of Pesticides and Herbicides. Prevention of Dezincification of brass pipe connectors. Prevention of contamination of drinking water from lead supply pipes, and collaboration with the Royal London Hospital on Lead effects on the brain. Temperature Unstable Calcium Carbonate Hexahydrate formation. Spring sources at Bradwell Springs , Pin hole copper corrosion in domestic copper piping, caused by change of supply between spring and river sources. Interior of copper pipe contaminated. Design and construction of a Floating Meteorological and Chemical monitoring station on Hanningfield Reservoir for Algal control. Later used as a tern nesting site. Sand and chironomid infestation in Burnham mains from the inefficient sand filter. Nematode Infestation at Shoeburyness.
Non Scientific Activities
Early 1970’s Nalgo Union Representative for Quality Dept 1990’s Member of the Company Staff Council 1990’s Member of Company Pensioner Trustee Liaison Group (Northumberland Water)
Post Water Company Retirement Activities
Numerous talks on water supply, to a range of societies, together with non water based talks which have included, his period as Chairman of the Maldon District Council from May 2012 to May 2014, a period including the Olympics and Queens Jubilee, and as an Election Agent for the Rt Hon Sir John Whittingdale., OBE. MP. in 2005 and 2010.
Following a period of nine years as Manager/Relief Bar Steward of the Maldon Constitutional Club, I was recruited as Election Agent for the local MP John Whittingdale, by my wife Eileen, who was the Office manager for John. This then led to standing for Election to Maldon District Council in 2005, which was successful and lasted ten years. In 2012 I was appointed Chairman, for a period of two years.
Reading Inaugural Declaration as Chairman May 2012
Chairman of Maldon District Council 2012 to 2014
The Chairman of the Maldon District Council is one of 15 Civic positions across Essex, whom occupy the position of First Citizen, of their Districts. Those of Essex County Council and Maldon traditionally occupy the position for two years, the remainder one year.
Civic Reception at Harlow District Council
Next down the Civic order come the 50 or so Town Mayors and Parish Council Chairmen.
At the service for the Centenary of City of Chelmsford Cathedral also attended by the Queen and Prince Philip
The Thames barge “Hydrogen” at the annual opening of the Colne Oyster Fishery.
Queens Jubilee Flotilla Tall Ships
The Royal Family on board the Spirit of Chartwell
The Spirit of Chartwell converted for the Queen
The Spirit of Chartwell before conversion for the Queen
2011 Dining on the Spirit of Chartwell for my 70th Birthday surprise
Prior to the Queens Jubilee, in 2012, my wife Eileen together with friends Maureen and Stella Game organised a year of surprises to celebrate my 70th birthday in April 2011. These included 1 A day in London, with a Thames trip on an Amphibious Duck, followed by a Champagne fuelled trip on the London Eye in the evening. 2 Then a Jazz and Seafood evening at The Langham Hotel , in London. 3 A few days in Bergen, Norway, staying at the Hotel Havne Kontorot, Express Boat on the Sognefjord, Flamsbana train to Myrdal, passed the Kjosfossen waterfall, Up the funicular at Bergen harbour to the cliff top for drinks at the Bar. 4 Dinner at the Oxo Tower, Staying at the Hotel Britannia Continental overnight, followed by a two night stay with dinner, on the Spirit of Chartwell, with cruises down the Thames to beyond the Thames Barrier, and Coach and River Trip up River, including lunch, and visit to Runnymeade, and Cliveden House made infamous by Christine Keeler and John Profumo. 5 Cocktails at Freuds, followed by a Theatre visit to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. an hilarious bawdy performance, followed by fine dining at L’Escargot, London’s oldest French Restaurant. 6 A weekend in Jersey, 7 and finally, the obligatory weekend in Ghent.
This was kindly chronicled by Stella in a commemorative Book
2011 Dinner at the OXO Tower, “WOW” What a year roll on my 80th
Previous Birthday/Holiday Surprises organised by Eileen
1992 Chester UK 1993 Monkey Island on the River Thames 1994 St Peter Port Guernsey 1997 Amsterdam Holland 2000 Lille France 2000 Barbados 2001 Venice 2006 Ghent Belgium 2017 The Goring, London only 4 years to my 80th
Lunch with Lord Mayor of London at Mansion House for Post Olympic London Parade
2014 Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall visiting Maldon
2012 At The Historical Colchester Oyster Feast
Official Opening of the Colne Oyster Fishery Official Toast with Gin and Gingerbread, both are very acceptable
All Mine !!! almost.
2013 I had a slightly more varied menu for my Civic River Blackwater barge voyage
On the Hydrogen at Maldon hosting Civic dignitaries from across Essex
2012 In the Costermongers Harvest Parade to Bow Bells Church
Since retirement in 1996, from the Essex and Suffolk Water Company, my other activities have included,
1996 to 2005 Secretary/Manager of Maldon Constitutional Club with , 460 members Secretary of the Maldon branch of the Licensed Victuallers Association.
1995 to 1997 Member of Woodrolfe Masonic Lodge No 8354 Tollesbury
1997 to 2001 Member of Lodge of St Peter,No 1024, Maldon
2006 to 2009 Governor of Wentworth Primary School
2003 to 2010 Conservative Election Agent for District, County and Parliamentary Elections
2005 to 2015 Maldon District Councillor, including Chairman of MDC from 2012 to 2014.
2006 to 2014 Board Member of Moat Homes Ltd. A Housing Association with over 20,000 houses.
2007 to 2016 Public Elected Governor of North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.
2011 to 2017 Trustee of the Plume Educational Trust
2013 to 2015 Trustee of Mid Essex Mind
2013 to 2016, 2018 to 2021 Chairman of Maldon Pioneers Assn, a local charity for Adults with Learning Difficulties
2017 to 2018 Treasurer of Maldon Pioneers Assn
2013 to 2018 President of Maldon District Museum
1998 on Member of Essex Society for Family History
2002 on Member of Maldon Cavaliers, a monthly dining Club, and President for 2004/5 and 2016 on Organising two 4 day holidays for 48 travellers, to Belgium and France. Day Trips and Lunches.
2014 on Member of Chelmer Canal Trust
Apart from travelling to Borneo and Malaysia prior to retirement in 1996, our holidays were mainly spent in rented accommodation in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. On completion of my work in Borneo, accompanied by Eileen my wife, we also visited Hong Kong, Penang Island, and Singapore. This instilled in us the desire for foreign travel, and overall between 1980 and 2019, we have travelled to 43 Countries on 186 Visits including 16 Business visits, staying at 145 Hotels, of which i have the names of 136.
In all Countries visited ( 186) Does not include Day Trips.
Austria 1, Barbados 1, Belgium 17, Borneo 1, Canada 2, Croatia 1, Cyprus North 1, Cyprus South 2 , Czech Republic 1, Denmark 1, France 17, Germany 3, Gibraltar 6, Greece 2, Guernsey 1, Holland 6, Hong Kong 1, Hungary 1,Italy 10, Ireland 2, Israel 1, Jersey 1, Jordan 1, Madeira 3, Malaysia 1, Malta 1, Morocco 2, North America 3, Norway 1, Penang 1, Portugal 3, Russia 1, Sardinia 2, Sicily 1, Singapore 1, Spain 10, South Africa 2, Sweden 1, Switzerland 2, Syria 1, Turkey 6, UAE Dubai 1 Most of our trips were uneventful apart from Istanbul in Turkey, where I was hospitalised with dehydration, and Lyons, France with a triple fracture of my right arm. Reviews of Hotels and Restaurants at some of the above have resulted in over 48,328 readers on Trip Advisor by October 2018.
Ghent, in Belgium, has been our most frequent destination, only 4 hours driving time punctuated by an hour on Eurotunnel. Staying at the central Marriott hotel, and always visiting the friendly Ilse, at the Restaurant de Graslei, immediately opposite, on the other side of the canal. Also POL at t’Dreupelkot a Genever Bar, and Eliott at his Lobster Restaurant. We also celebrated with Andre, at the opening of his Ice Cream Parlour, drinking Champagne out of Ice cream Sundae glasses.
The Poppi Lounge at the Ghent Marriott
The canal between the Marriott and Restaurant de Graslei
Eileen with Ilse at the Restaurant de Graslei
We also visit POL the proprietor of the t’Dreupelkot the popular Genever Bar
Many of these journeys have included various of our friends, and if we never set foot out of England again, we have a store of amusing and amazing memories to last a lifetime, and reminisce, over the many photographs taken.
Our Hotel in Moscow, The Rossiya, adjacent to the Kremlin, built by President Kruschev to be the largest in Europe , now demolished, and a Public Park has been created on site. President Putin drove past every day on his way to the Kremlin. As a result security was very high with security men with body scanners on all floors at the lifts.
An ancestor, William Charles Perry spent 25 years as an engineer involved in the Moscow water supply installation. Was not up to the job as cold water in our hotel was discoloured from iron pipes.
Discoloured water in the hotel Rossiya Moscow
My ancestor who was a Rat catcher
I would like to dedicate this website to the memory of colleagues :- Linda Cranmer, Janet King, and Roy Mitcham, all of whom had their lives taken away prematurely by that Dreaded Disease.
Linda Cranmer. I recruited Linda whilst we were both studying at Chelmsford college. This was at a time when all Lab Staff were multifunctional, covering Chemical, Microbiological and Biological analysis. She was an ever cheerful, efficient colleague.
Janet King. Janet was our Secretary for several years, and was a kind hearted person, adept at her job looking after the clerical needs of all the Lab Staff.
Roy Mitcham. I shared an office at Langford with Roy for 12 years, we became close friends and had a great social life outside of work. He was unfortunately Bi polar and was either full of woe or on cloud 9 where nothing was impossible. He impulsively bought a sailing boat and took it out for the first time on the River Blackwater, and with little tidal knowledge, had to be rescued from the mudbank, with his family. Not very good with boats, we were sampling the pond at Bradwell springs, when Roy stood up to get out of the rowing boat, put his foot on the bow and holding the rope tied to the front jumped out. In doing so he kicked the boat backwards and the rope pulled him back into the pond. Having been totally submerged, he then ran naked around the field to dry off, as we had nothing to dry him with. Fortunately no female members of the staff were present !!!!
In 2010 I was diagnosed with aggressive Prostate Cancer that having spread could not be contained by prostate removal. Following over seven weeks of Radio Therapy followed by 3 years of Hormone Treatment, I am now in 2023, still in remission. Whew !!!!
I hope that within this website you may have found some items of interest or amusement
David N Williams