Public Health and Water Supply in Bridgwater

This study was undertaken during 1992-4 to inform the design of the historical displays at the Education Centre at Wessex Water’s Ashford Water Treatment works.

The Centre is housed in the historic engine house of the original Bridgwater Water Works, and is on the Minehead road, south of Cannington.

The research involved reading the C19 Bridgwater newspapers, the Water Committee minutes, and for the C20 the annual reports of the County Medical Officer. In addition, Government reports on the state of Bridgwater’s public health were also consulted.

It covers the Bridgwater Borough and the Rural District supplies.

The story is taken to 1963, when the supplies came under the control of the West Somerset Water Board. In turn this was privatised in 1989 to become part of Wessex Water plc.


1) Introduction

2) The first water supply and the 1824 scheme

3) Public health and sanitation in mid-Victorian times

4) Epidemics

5) Agitation for Sanitary Reform

6) Bridgwater Corporation Waterworks

7) The Bridgwater Waterworks 1879-1900

8) The Bridgwater Waterworks 1900-1939

9) The Bridgwater Waterworks 1939-1963

The Borough Sanitary Reports, one of the sources in this research, have been digitised, and are available here.

Webpage 12 October 2013. Text © 2013 Tony Woolrich & pixtures 2009 Dr P E Cattermole.