Inauguration of Woolacombe’s Water Scheme (1905)

4th August 1905

Red Letter Day

Morte Hoe and Woolacombe, two of the most popular watering places in the North Devon coast, were Tuesday given over to a public holiday, the occasion being the inauguration of the splendid new supply of water which, thanks to the public spirited action of the Ilfracombe Urban Council, is now conveyed from the heather clad hills of Exmoor direct to the pretty little watering places on the coast. For a long time a good water supply has been the one things lacking at Woolacombe. This want has been supplied, and now there is little doubt that a new era of prosperity will be opened up.

The rapidity with which the work has been carried out is exceedingly creditable to all concerned. The pipes traverse about five miles, but, nevertheless, the work has been accomplished in about eight weeks, thus rendering the supply available for a large portion of the summer season.

The contract for the erection of filer beds and service tank to hold 100,000 galloons on the eastern side of Mullacott Cross has been given to Mr. Pickett, of Ilfracombe. Nine-inch pipes will connect with the service tank and filter beds.

With the exception of excavations from Morte Hoe to Woolacombe the whole of the work has been carried out by the Ilfracombe Council’s workmen under the supervision of the Engineer (Mr. O. M. Prouse).

Tuesday’s proceedings commenced at 1.45pm when all those interested in the scheme assembled at the Woolacombe Bay Hotel and marched in procession, headed by the Volunteer Band, to a spot above the famous Barricane shell beach, where the was turned into the pipes by Mr. G. C. Davies, J. P, C.C (Chairman of Barnstaple Rural District Council). There was a large gathering around the improvised platform, which in common with the whole of the houses in the vicinity was gaily bedecked with banners and streamers. Those present included Mr. E. J. Davies, who with Mr. H. Beer, arranged the day’s programme.

Mr. Beer in asking Mr. Davie to turn on the water, said this was indeed a red letter day in their history. Not long ago they were under a cloud, thinking their new supply would not be available at all during the present season; but thanks to the energy and faithful service of all engaged in the works, the pipes had been laid, the water secured, and, they hoped, a new period of success and prosperity begun for the twin Mr. G. C. Davie, after congratulating Morte Hoe and Woolacombe in having such a splendid supply, turned on the water amidst cheers. Mr. Prouse, the engineer, filled a silver goblet, with the water, and in proposing the health of the twin villages predicted for them a splendid future of health and prosperity.

The Vicar (Rev. T. W. Pigot), as one who had lived many years amongst them, felt very grateful to see what Mr. Davie had done for them that day. They were surrounded with some of the loveliest of Devonshire scenery, their shores were washed by the broad Atlantic, and refreshed by its life-giving breezes, and now, blessed with an irreproachable water supply, surely Woolacombe was an ideal holiday resort.

Mr. J. C. Clarke, in the course of a few remarks, said it was remarkable fact that since this was had been brought into Ilfracombe they had the lowest death rate ever recorded.

A vote of thanks to Mr. Davie, proposed by Mr. Harris, seconded by Mr. Ellis was cordially given, whilst Mr. F. Beer, Chairman of the parish council was warmly thanked.

Luncheon was partaken of at the Mortehoe Hotel, several complimentary toasts being proposed.

Subsequently all the children in the parish were entertained at tea in the Schoolroom, whilst the day terminated with a public dance.

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