In 1935, Cosford Rural District Council proposed a scheme for bringing mains water to Nedging, Naughton and Bildeston at an estimated cost of £5,826 10s 0d. The matter was debated at a meeting of Bildeston Parish Council held in April, which was attended by W.H. Bateman, consulting engineer employed by the Rural District Council. He outlined the proposal for 8,800 gallons to be provided daily for a total population of 880, of whom 668 were residents of Bildeston, with the water main coming to Bildeston from the south along the Hadleigh Road. This did not seem to suit the Parish Council, which suggested the main should come from the east down the Ipswich Road, as the area was suitable for future building development. The chairman also sent a sample of water from what was known as the town pump in Market Place to be tested by the Medical Officer of Health for West Suffolk County Council.
There had been a well in Market Place for centuries. In 1639, four shillings was spent on penning it round for safety reasons and at sometime between then and 1864, it had been capped with a pump from where residents collected water in buckets. F.S. Growse suggested that the spring in the middle of Market Place, which supplied the town pump, may have been mentioned in the foundation charter of Bricett Priory in the year 1110.
In May 1935, a public enquiry held at the Social Hall (later Dukes Hall) in Duke Street, attended by an inspector from the Ministry of Health, heard that any alteration to the original scheme would cost an additional £1,200 and was therefore out of the question. The County Council also responded concerning the water sample by pointing out that it was the duty of the District Council to analyse water. The meeting agreed that independent analysis should be made by sending a sample to Norwich at a cost of £2 3s 0d. The following year, Bildeston Parish Council was still pursuing the idea of retaining the old pump in Market Place as the water had been shown to be fit for drinking. However, in March 1937, a letter was received from Cosford stating that its purity was doubtful and that the supply should be closed by removal of the pump handle. In December, as pure water was now being supplied to Bildeston through the mains and the Parish Council had no authority over water supply, Cosford gave notice that it intended to remove the pump completely. In June 1938, Cosford Council received a letter from Bildeston Council stating that after the pump had been removed from Market Place, the ground had been left in such a bad state and a request was made for all to be put in order immediately.
© Sue Andrews 2021