Introduction & Sequence : A Series of Linked Posts

More background to water-supply in Bradford in the 1850s and on the ‘Water Dispute’ 1852 -1872 (Messrs Ripley v the Bradford Corporation) : introducing and setting out the sequence for a series of linked posts

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2017. All rights reserved.

Introduction & Sequence : A Series of Linked Posts

The Water Dispute 1852 – 1872: Messrs Ripley v the Bradford Corporation

The dispute in summary

In the ‘Water Dispute’ H W Ripley, later the main sponsor for the industrial model village of Ripley Ville, sought to secure rights for himself and his heirs to supply water across a very broad swathe of south Bradford. The area stretched beyond the boundaries of what is now West Bowling, from Park Lane in the west, across to Wakefield Rd in the east and down close to Bradford town centre. Opposing Ripley and nominally, Edward Ripley, his father, was Bradford Corporation. Over the course of the dispute the Corporation acted initially to deny the Ripleys and Bowling Waterworks the right to provide water on a commercial basis either across or along public roads and, in a final legal judgement, in the soil beneath public roads. Having won the court cases that established these rights, the Corporation through a council committee then negotiated with H W Ripley to limit the use of the Ripley’s water-resources to within their own land and property.

Writing the Bradford ‘Water Dispute’ story

The Bradford ‘Water Dispute’ features in regional histories, in books describing the development of national welfare policies and in academic treaties and papers written by Bradford and Leeds University historians. It is, however, largely absent from local popular histories and from ‘folk’ memory.

The dispute was of long duration. The core events, the court cases, occurred during the ten years from 1852 to 1862. Different strands in the background stories to the dispute occurred over slightly earlier periods and periods of different duration.. The Water Dispute, itself, had implications for the water-supply and the installation of water-closets in Ripleys’ dye-works and mills and in the workmen’s dwellings and the schools building of the industrial model village of Ripley Ville. These extend the dispute’s influence into the 1870s.

The background stories are also complex. Two earlier posts looked at the preliminary skirmishes over water-supply related to Bowling Beck and the legal contests between Wood & Walkers and other upstream commercial users. This was before Wood & Walkers eventually took on the Ripleys.

A further series of posts is needed to carry these interlinked stories forward.

A Series of Linked Posts : Sequence

Next Post : Biography H W Ripley and Bradford’s elites, 1848 – 1872 

The next post starts with biography and an assessment of H W Ripley’s wealth and social standing in Bradford in the early 1870s. It then moves backwards to review his commercial activities in south Bradford and his varied roles in the town’s trade and civic life from 1848 to 1858. It ends with a listing of the magistrates of the West Riding in 1850, which includes William Walker, principal partner in Wood & Walkers but also other members of Bradford’s social and political elites.

Following Post : Sanitary Reform and Town Improvement 1847 – 1857

The following post adds further context by drawing together strands of the early history of sanitary reform and town improvement in Bradford. This was shaped both by mid-century knowledge of sanitation and attitudes to this and to town improvement and through the Borough council’s fluctuating relationship with central government. Using some primary but mostly secondary sources this post covers events from Bradford’s incorporation in 1847 up to the Borough Council’s take-over of Bradford Waterworks after 1854.

Taken together the two posts aim to:-

  • show H W Ripley’s somewhat anomalous early arrival among Bradford’s elites,
  • place the Water Dispute within the broader picture of mid-Victorian public health legislation, sanitary reform and town improvement
  • settle out those issues, practical, political and economic, related to water-supply that made it different from sewering.

Water-supply and sewering were different issues for mid-century Bradfordians, for Bradford’s ratepayers and elected representatives and for the Borough council’s officers and contractors for one or more of these sets of reasons.

Copy of 1841 print – so showing its age – from frontispiece in ‘The History of Bradford’ by John James

Topics for Later Posts

The Condition of Bradford 1840 – 1856

Later content posted to the blog will consider the condition of Bradford in the ‘dirty’ 1840s and into the mid-1850s. It will focus in particular on police evidence of the inadequacy of Bradford’s water-supply in 1852. This was the year in which H W Ripley’s intentions to become a supplier of water in south Bradford became very clear.

From competition to Corporation ownership and compromise: Waterworks and reservoirs

The evidence for the inadequacy of Bradford’s water supply will be set against the remedies, plans and actions of the three contestants in the Water Dispute; Bradford Corporation, Bradford Waterworks and the Ripleys (Bowling Waterworks), This later blog content will show that those rival plans were simplified by the Corporation’s purchase of Bradford Waterworks, the legal limits put on the Ripleys and Bowling Waterworks and the adoption of a compromise and, in the views of some, a compromised plan for the building of new reservoirs in the late -1850s and beyond.

Water-supply and Ripley Ville

The water-supply and ‘Water Dispute’ stories need to be taken forward from the mid to late 1850s up to 1866 and the plans for the Ripley Ville and the buildings of the village’s northern site.

Connected Stories

Other connected stories, which may or may not find their way into posts on this blog, include:-

  • the sewering of Bradford, particularly south Bradford and Ripley Ville
  • the series of discussions and decisions that led Bradford Borough’s Sanitary, Baths and Cemetery Committee to require working class housing to be provided with external dry privies and ash pits in preference to water-closets.
  • a continuation of the Ripley Ville ‘Water-closet Controversy’ story. This needs to be moved on from the speculation and counter-speculation of previous posts. They looked at the evidence for installation of water-closets in the various buildings of the village and, most importantly, in the workmen’s houses. That installation, which appears to have been common to all the Ripley Ville dwellings, was in advance of the regional and national standard for such buildings in the mid-1860s. Contrary to what has been stated elsewhere, it then continued in defiance of Bradford Borough regulations.

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2017. All rights reserved.

published 2017/03/07

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