In 1290 Nicholas de Barbeflet, Lord of Shirley Manor, granted the use of Colewell Spring to the Franciscan Friary in the lower part of the medieval walled town. The friars constructed a conduit head, which can still be seen in the grounds of what used to be Nazareth House on Hill Lane, over the spring, and piped the water to the friary via the water house in what is now Commercial Road. In 1311 the friars granted the use of their water to the town's inhabitants, and in 1420 they passed the whole water supply system over to the town council. This is, therefore, one of the earliest examples of a municipally owned water supply in Great Britain. By the 15th century the system supplied nearly all of the town's water needs through a grid of public conduit houses. The Colewell Spring remained the major source of ground water for over 500 years.

Conduit Head

Image Unavailable

Photograph, c.1920

see also

Further reading:
History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p114-119. (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes, 2nd Series, by ‘Townsman’, p25. (HS/h)
Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt, p65, 144, 207-208. (HS/h)


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