South Downs a huge natural resevoir
Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990. As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.
a) WELLS: Brighton’s situation on the porous chalk aquifer of the South Downs provides the town with a huge natural reservoir, and the water supply has always been drawn from wells, headings and boreholes sunk into the chalk; fresh water springs can still be seen issuing from the chalk under the shingle of the beaches at low tide, particularly just east of the Palace Pier . Since medieval times regulations have existed to prevent contamination of sources, but the rapid expansion of the town in the early nineteenth century, with the consequent cutting of many cesspits into the chalk, resulted in severe public health problems throughout the century which were not alleviated until an efficient piped water supply and adequate sewerage were provided.
The main well for town use was situated at the rear of the Unicorn Inn near the top of North Street , and Richard Scrase is recorded as having erected a building over it by 1621. When the inn was rebuilt in 1892 the well was rediscovered and found to be 110 feet deep. Another town well in West Street was stopped up as being dangerous in April 1792, while the well at the Knab was completed in 1727 and was still in use in the latter half of the nineteenth century when there were also public wells by the Sussex Arms in East Street , in Market Street , and in Pool Valley . In 1858-62 a well was sunk at the Warren Farm Schools to a depth of 1,285 feet , the deepest dug well in the world.
Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.