Wells and Springs

In many reports about Whalley, it is often said that it derived its name from the number of wells there were in times gone by. 'The Field of Wells' is what they thought, and could very well be true. Besides the wells shown on hand drawn maps made by the Petre and the Worsley Taylor Estates and those shown on the first ordnance survey carried out in 1884 which served the general community, there were also many small individual wells serving houses and farms.

One of the main wells was in the Church Square. It was situated up against the end cottage facing you as you approached from the direction of the church. A pump was added to this at a later date. There were several other wells at other points. There was one at Stocks Hill House, (which is opposite the Old Grammar School), in the cellar, said to have been used by an early village doctor to compound his medicines. One in the field opposite the railway station, one behind the 'Old Vicarage' and another at the rear of Sands Cottage.

The largest one was a Cistern Well at the end of Archbishop's Wood, at the beginning of Sandy Brow where the old gasometer used to be, just beyond 'The Cloisters'. This was the last to be in general use and was still the main water supply for the village upto the early 1950's. Even in the longest of droughts this supply was never known to run dry, and it continued to the reservoir situated over at Wiswell Moor until it was taken out of service and we began to draw our water supply from the pipeline between the Lake District and Manchester.

Probably the oldest well was 'High Wall Well' at Bramley Meade, built by the Whalley monks. During various excavations over the years, lead pipes that had once carried water from there to the Lavatorium in the Abbey have been unearthed.

Billington had a total of seven wells listed. One situated by the bridge, two up on Painter Wood and a further four over the moor around Whalley Banks.

There were also many springs that ran into stone troughs and some were reputed to contain mystic medical values. One such trough was situated by the footpath in the field beyond Brookes Lane, and because of its high iron content it was thought, in early days, to have been used by the local doctors to make up medicines.

One thing must not be forgotten there was a stream running the full length of the village, which virtually ran right past the front door of houses on King street. This lasted until it was diverted into a 4ft. concrete culvert constructed beneath King Street in 1826, just before the turnpike road to Bury was completed in 1827. The Toll House still stands today just before Sandy Brow (Accrington Road).