4 Essex Water Company

The Essex Water Company was formed by the Essex Water Orders of 1970 combining the Southend and South Essex Water Companies.. From 1st April 1971 this then included:-

Chelmsford Borough Council,  Chelmsford Rural District Council
Maldon Borough Council, Maldon Rural District Council
Burnham on Crouch Urban District Council and Witham Urban District Council. An area of 594 sq miles with a population of 1,340,000 supplied through 3297 miles of distribution mains, and an average daily supply of 98.4 million gallons

EWC Area 2 001 (2)

Essex Water Company Area of Supply and Distribution System. Between 1971 and the mid 1980’s some of the smaller sources were shut down, replaced by a supply from the larger works such as Langham and Layer and Langford. These small sources included Bradwell Springs, near Braintree, a shallow spring source,  and the Maldon and Burnham boreholes, which were deep boreholes into the chalk.

Bradwell Springs was a shallow well source, next to Bradwell Church, which also fed an adjacent lake prior to overflowing and running into the River Blackwater. The only difference between the water in the well and lake, was that the well did not contain the aquatic life found in the lake. It was constructed by the Francis Henry Critall  to supply Silver End, a private model village, where they established a factory making galvanized window frames. The Village contained houses for the factory workers and was self contained generating its own electricity and having farms to supply food, there was even a department store The water was pumped using oil driven engines linked to the pumps with long drive belts. The Essex water company converted the pumping to electric pumps, not long before its use was discontinued. The excess water supplied was fed into the outskirts of Witham, which was primarily fed from the North Essex supply via the Criers wood reservoir at Wickham Bishops.


Bradwell Springs Well site, well head small light patch close to the righr of the lake, with the pumping station below. The lake drains to the River Blackwater at the bottom of the picture. 

Whilst the Bradwell source was still in use, complaints wee received from a new estate on the perimeter of Witham that received both Bradwell spring water and river water  from Criers Wood reservoir. The complaints were most unusual, of leaking copper pipes. It transpired that the river water produced small pin holes at the site where internal carbon deposits had not been fully removed from the manufacture of the copper pipe, but the corrosion products formed plugs in the holes. The plugs were then dissolved by the spring water, causing small leaks.When the spring source was shut down no further leakage was reported. 

The water was unlike river water because it was rain derived, draining into the gravel beds  through the fields. It contained no carbonate hardness, mainly calcium sulphate, and some nitrate from fertiliser and Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere making it acidic with a pH of 7.1

The Company was acquired by  Lyonnaise des Eaux  in 1988  at the same time as the Suffolk Water Company and merged in 1994 to become the Essex and Suffolk Water Company.