Hello, I’m Thomas Blake. Born and bred in this fine market town of Ross. Businessman, teacher, postmaster, philanthropist, journalist, accountant, estate agent, MP, JP … I won’t go on. There are buildings all over the town that I’ve been associated with.
I want to tell you about one particular piece of work I did in the town that has a bit of a link to John Kyrle. It was he who set out this Prospect garden in about 1700. There was a fountain in the middle of what was then a much larger garden. It was all very lovely but the key thing was that the fountain, using water pumped up from the Wye, then supplied water down into the town. It was a great achievement, before that it had been buckets. Poor old Kyrle did the best he could with the materials he had then, but the hollowed out elm tree trunks that he used for pipes quickly split and leaked, especially when they froze in the winter, and the water supply soon stopped.
Various attempts had been made to patch up the great man’s work and keep the water supply going but none really worked. River water was not very healthy anyway. By 1887 it was clear that a better solution was needed. Great improvements had been going on in Ross through the nineteenth century and the water supply needed to match. It was in that year that I built the Alton Court Water Works. Here, clean water that had been filtered through the ground, was pumped to the surface. It was then piped to a new storage tank which is still there under the big wide path in the churchyard near the steps from St Mary’s Street. If you look in the wall by the Phoenix Theatre carpark you’ll see a hatch that used to give access to it. From there new pipes took it into the town. Take a look at my video for a bit more.