Victorian hydrant restored in Eastbourne after being ‘put in a skip’

Richard Crook with the refurbished water hydrant in Gidredge Road, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190926-092304008
Richard Crook with the refurbished water hydrant in Gidredge Road, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190926-092304008

A Victorian cast-iron water hydrant installed in Eastbourne town centre during the horse-drawn transport era to fill water carts has been restored to its former glory – after being accidentally removed by workmen.

Historian Frank Woods discovered that one of the last remaining Victorian water-posts in Gildredge Road had been inadvertently ripped out by contractors working on the town centre improvement scheme.

Richard Crook with the refurbished water hydrant in Gidredge Road, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190926-092218008

Richard Crook with the refurbished water hydrant in Gidredge Road, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190926-092218008

The hydrants were originally made by the Westminster Foundry of Ham Baker & Company Ltd and installed during the age of horse-drawn transport to fill water carts which sprayed the roads with water in dry weather in order to keep the dust down before the age of tarmac.

Frank Woods, a member of the Eastbourne Local History Society, said, “The one in Gildredge Road was removed due to the modernisation programme currently underway in that area.

“Regrettably I was not around to see the work actually going on in that vicinity or I would have intervened; judging by the plastic pipe protruding from its hole, I reckon I had only just missed its removal by a matter of days.

“I did enquire of its whereabouts to the workmen only to be informed rather nonchalantly that ‘it’s probably in a skip somewhere’.”

Richard Crook with the refurbished water hydrant in Gidredge Road, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190926-092144008

Richard Crook with the refurbished water hydrant in Gidredge Road, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190926-092144008

Fellow historian and the architectural adviser to the Eastbourne Society, Richard Crook, made enquiries with East Sussex County Council and discovered the post, which was in a Conservation Area, had been inadvertently removed by the contractor working on the town centre scheme and agreed it should be put back.

Mr Crook said, “Unfortunately, there was no money in the council’s budget to refurbish and paint the post but this was kindly carried out at no cost by Sussex Blast Cleaning of Hailsham and this historic artefact has now been reinstated in Gildredge Road in its original location.”

Historians say that in 1977, nine original posts recorded in the town had reduced to seven due to the demise of those in Ashford Road and Langney Road.

Since then three further posts have disappeared, namely those in Gaudwick Road, Seaside and Vicarage Road.

Richard Crook with the refurbished water hydrant in Gidredge Road, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190926-092315008

Richard Crook with the refurbished water hydrant in Gidredge Road, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190926-092315008

Four now remain – in Gildredge Road, Grassington Road and St John’s Road.