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.
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.
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.
Before Ripley Ville was built. More on the Ripleys’ use of water from Bowling Beck and elsewhere from the Bowling valley in the early 1850s, the complaints of Walkers Co against them and the connections to Titus Salt and the ‘Bowling Tough’.
Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2016 All rights reserved.
The Ripleys’ use of the water of the Bowling valley, Titus Salt and the Bowling Tough : early 1850s
Previous post & this post
I have had a bit more time to look at the archive documents related to the case of Wood & Walkers and the Ripleys in the early 1850s. This post is a follow up to the previous one. I have updated that one from when it was first published last month on April 1st. It now conforms with the newer information. This helped to firm up the date for the original parts of the affidavit of Benjamin Murgatroyd. As Superintendent of Bowling Dyeworks, he had first-hand information about changes at the Works and their use of water and dyewares in worsted dyeing between 1830s and early 1850s; information not available elsewhere.
This post goes into more detail on;
- the grounds for the complaint and the court case of John Wood, William Walker and Charles Walker (Walkers & Co) against Edward and Henry William Ripley (the Ripleys)
- and the defense of the Ripleys’ actions as prepared by their solicitors.
Titus Salt became involved in an earlier case, a more general objection by Bradford’s worsted manufacturers to the Ripleys’ actions in 1853 and more directly in the case of Walkers & Co and the Ripleys.
The ‘Bowling Tough’, so called, played a part in the Ripleys’ defense.
Before Ripley Ville was built. In this post; a first-hand description of changes to Bowling Dyeworks and worsted dyeing from Works’ Superintendent and practical dyer, Benjamin Murgatroyd, circa 1835 to 1855 and evidence on how Bowling Beck was used and misused.
Copyright R L Walker 2016 All rights reserved
This nearly had to be a post about not doing a post. Its seven weeks since the last one. I have been reviewing archive documents for south Bradford, covering the ten years 1852-1862 and related to the ‘Water Dispute, Messrs Ripley v. Bradford Corporation’ . It has been a long slog and I’m still not finished. I was planning to post an apology explaining the silence, then on Monday last week I had a jack-in-a-box moment. From all the archive boxes and documents over the previous weeks one just jumped out at me.
Benjamin Murgatroyd & Bowling Dyeworks 1835 to 1855
The Water Dispute
The document was in a group of papers connected to the ‘Water Dispute’ but not directly involved in the Ripleys’ dispute with Bradford Corporation. The Dispute itself was about water supply in Bradford; who should have control of it and how best the town could be served. At its heart was the gap between the needs of the town and what was available.(1) The engineer J F Bateman (1810-1889), fresh from working on the water supply of Manchester, reported in 1852 that there was a twenty-fold gap. Where supply was around half a million gallons a day, from Bradford Waterworks, he calculated that between ten and twenty million gallons a day would be needed for all the town’s needs. In a series of letters he outlined the works and costs of getting to that level of supply.(2)
Affidavit of Benjamin Murgatroyd
The jack-in-a-box document was the draft of an affidavit, in manuscript form, with crossings out and additions in a second and possibly a third person’s hand.(3)
Unsigned and undated in this draft form, it’s opening paragraph – before crossing outs and additions – stated;