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Stow Wells update
The restoration of the environment of the wells is included in the Stow Community Plan and the first steps towards achieving the aim have been taken.
A plan detailing the proposals for the work has been prepared by Alan Pinder, and a small working group has been set up. This group assembled at the Wells on a beautiful day during our Indian Summer to discuss the plan. We were agreed that Alan had done a fine job in reflecting the initial suggestions of the Town Plan Committee and there was considerable agreement to the proposals among the working group
The work would need to progress in stages; the first task is to clear some of the overhanging tree branches that not only overshadow the Well but are responsible for depositing leaves and other debris in the water. Old photographs show that the Well used to be very much more open and there was no sign of the tree causing the greatest problem! It was agreed that at least part of this tree should come down, but the advice of a tree surgeon will be sought. Other work includes tackling the leaks, more a matter of managing them than stopping them, clearing the undergrowth and sowing a wild flower mix interspersed with ferns.
Further work to keep cars from parking too close to the well would require the creation of a lay-by or pull-in on the other side of the road (again as shown in earlier photos) and create an increased frontage.
Although the clearance work will be a working party exercise, some of the work will require professional advice and assistance, which will require funding.
The photographs taken between 1885 and 1900, show the more open aspect that the Well enjoyed then.
The photographs show the extent of growth and overhanging cover now.
The trees to the left of the Well have grown very tall and are crowding each other, and a number of smaller trees which do not stand much chance of attaining any height due to being overshadowed need to be removed.
The biggest problem is the sycamore tree to the right of the well. The left hand fork overhangs the Well itself and is responsible for much of the vegetation that falls into the water.
The next problem to be tackled is leakage. For whatever reason, there are two steady trickles of water which are soaking into the surrounding ground and causing large boggy areas which turn icy in winter. We feel that the only remedy is to contain them and duct them to the existing drain, which will require work to break into the sides of the drain and ensure adequate “fall”. This will need professional involvement.
Once this is resolved then we can start to clear the undergrowth around the area, which will be done by a working party, and then seed the bank with wild flowers and ferns. Thereafter regular ground clearance will be needed every spring to ensure the brambles and nettles do not re-assert themselves.
Some work is also needed to the existing chamber and pipe feeding the Well, including a new cover.
Finally consideration is needed to preserving the “natural” view of the well by keeping cars from parking too close to it, as they do at present. This will involve removing some of the asphalt apron and replacing it with a grass sward and some kind of “barrier”, but this will be a longer term project dependent upon the creation of an additional passing area on the opposite verge.
This work should create an environment for the Well befitting its former importance to the Town as a water supply and as a visitor attraction today. A degree of civic pride in this antique feature is required, but this will come at a cost. Further negotiations are required to establish the level of funding required, but such work will be fruitless if funding is unavailable. We would request that local organisations indicate their willingness to assist in this restoration work.