Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LAYING A WATER PIPE.' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LAYING A WATER PIPE.' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LAYING A WATER PIPE.' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LAYING A WATER PIPE.' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LAYING A WATER PIPE.' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LAYING A WATER PIPE.' page

Under the river

The first four photos show the laying of a water pipe under the river just north of the old swing bridge. The date that the photos were take is uncertain, but definitely after the "New Cut" had been made and North Quay constructed, for this can be clearly seen in photos 3 & 4.

There are two possible sources where the water which the pipe would carry came from, and it would be interesting to know whether the pipe shown in these photos is still there and still in use to this day.

At the time the photographs were taken the town's water was supplied by the "Newhaven & Seaford Water Company". This came from a well and pumping station situated in the valley at Poverty Bottom near the hamlet of Norton which lies about about half way between Newhaven and Seaford. The records for this water company are held at the East Sussex Records Office and are dated 1880 to 1961 which is presumably when the water company were in operation.

However a further source of water on the east side of the river is from a reservoir situated on Mount Pleasant with a pumping station below it in Denton, both of which are and always have been, owned and operated by the owners of the harbour (who at that time would have been the London Brighton & South Coast Railway). This supply of water was not only for the use of the harbour buildings and other Company properties but also by the cross channel ferries.

The pipe itself appears to be made of sections each about 20 feet long probably made of cast iron and bolted together by means of the flanges which can be seen at the ends of each section of pipe.

The photos show that to construct the cross-river section, two barges were moored transverse to the river and a framework built on them. The sections of pipe were then suspended from this framework and bolted together. This could have been quite hair-raising when consideration is given to the fact that the barges are "side-on" to the river and at this point the river narrows and the speed of the water at flood or ebb would have been quite fast and strong.

For instance in photo number three note the six men apparently struggling to haul on a mooring rope while the river rushes past.

Once the length of pipe needed to cross the river had been completed it would have been lowered into its final position which as can be seen in the photos was in a trench cut in the river bank. However it has not been determined whether the pipe was also laid into a trench dredged in the river bed. 

The photos appear to show that the work was carried out during a neap tide when there was very little difference in the depth of water between high and low tide.

How long it took to complete the construction and laying of the pipe is not known but it is possible that it only took one day if the sections hung from the framework had already been bolted together "off-site" and the only closure of the river was during the connection of the pipe sections in the river bank to these. As a result access through the swing bridge up and down river to the North quay would only have been restricted or even impossible for a few hours. The other possibility is that the laying of the pipe occurred very soon after the Swing bridge was constructed and that it was not yet being opened for the passage of river traffic.

The final two photos show a similar operation but apparently at a different location (maybe around the back of Denton Island?). Here the supporting framework for the pipework has been erected on piles driven into the river bed. At first while examining the photos it was thought that they represented the same pipe laying operation and that the hill in the background was Mount Pleasant but after much consideration this was dismissed as it was impossible to identify any of the buildings which can be seen.


Photos sourced

Text by RB

This page was added by Richard Beckett on 07/08/2015.

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