Seething Wells Water - Surbiton’s Hidden Heritage


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The Construction of the Lambeth filter beds ran from 1850 to 1852 when the site opened. This was closely followed by the Chelsea Water Company which started construction in 1854 and opened in 1856. The change in the area must have been momentous, from a quiet, rural environment to a major construction site. A description of it in the Surrey Comet describes the scene as confusing and chaotic, with up to 800 men working there.


There were no machines to do the excavation, it was by manual labour. The people that carried this out were migrant labourers, who worked in gangs on projects such as building canals and railways. Looking in the 1851 census for Kingston we find 61 locals who were classed as “Excavator at Water Works.”


They lived close to the water works in groups, such as in Thomas Barrows’ household. He lived in Brighton Terrace with his wife Sarah and two daughters, Sarah Ann (age 5) and Phoebe (age 3). Along with them were 10 lodgers all of whom were excavators at the waterworks. 


At a Seething Wells address, there are 10 men lodging, along with the head of the household, Thomas Best his family, wife and 5 children, and two servants. Thomas Best’s occupation is a Victualler, and Jane Hyde, one of his servants is a Hostler. This is obviously one of the pubs along the Portsmouth Road.


Impact on the local area

 



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