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Gisburn History Society

The Horse Well

The two troughs in the wall on Nelson Road, near the playing field gate, are named “The Horse Well” on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1849. The water in the troughs comes from the stream that runs down the croft between the A682 Nelson Road and the School. In the past, this stream seems to have been an important part of Gisburn's water supply. The Horse Well is one of the few bits of that system still visible above ground.

The Court Rolls of the Manor of Gisburne of the seventeenth century, record cases where people were ordered to keep water supply channels clear, and to correct the flow of water where it had been diverted without permission. One ruling of the Manor Court states:-
“Occupiers of the Acre in the Rakes shall take in water to runn in the accustomed current downe George Close dich upon paine of every default.”
This is an order to the people cultivating the land between Westby and Gisburn, to ensure a sufficient supply of water in the channel running down through the area now occupied by the School, the B.T. building and the Engine House, an area once known as Old George Meadow. The order very probably refers to the stream from which the Horse Well still draws its supply. The fine for each failure was three shillings and fourpence (about 17p, but a large sum 350 years ago).

The Horse Well's fine old troughs can each hold about 42 gallons. Made of local stone, they have four inch thick walls and smooth inner surfaces. Each trough has a drainage hole (now blocked up) in the near right hand corner. A channel is cut in the adjoining walls to let water run from the left upper trough into its “twin”. The front walls of the troughs have been worn down about two inches over the years of use, and a broad iron strip has been fixed to the left trough's front wall to protect it. A lead-lined channel lets water overflow through the road wall to rejoin the main stream under Lyndale Terrace.

Although seldom now supplying water to horses, this Well still runs as it has done for at least 200 years, and probably longer, and it usefully supplies the Memorial Garden.

Dr R Henderson