Kate Andrew has been looking into the messy business of the village’s sewerage systems…
Abberley didn’t had any sort of sewage disposal until the small sewage disposal unit was built on The Common (presumably in 1973) and most houses in the rest of the village still operate on septic tanks.
Sales particulars make the occasional reference to drains.
The 1939 estate sale of the three fields by the shop mentions that the drain from Apostle’s Oak cottage emptied into a ditch in the field furthest from the road. The septic tank and drains for no 151 Abberley Common (possibly Linden House or the Corner House) were located in the land that formed part of no 64.
Deeds for the new houses on Rosedale show drains from Churchfield Terrace and no 59 the Common passing through the Rosedale garden. The drains plus those from Rosedale and presumably all the other houses on The Common ended up in the stream that becomes Dick Brook, but in the days when most people had privies and the drains were really only dealing with water used for washing, this was not so much of an issue.
By the 1950s, Rosedale and the Corner House had flushing toilets, so they needed septic tanks. Great Witley gained 14 new council houses in 1955 in addition to seven other new houses built after the second world war. The WI noted in their March 1955 scrap book that an enlarged sewage disposal system was being built, suggesting that the village already had some form of sewage disposal system.
With the new housing built along the Common in the late 1960s and early 1970s came the need for a sewage plant; records for a scheme exist from 1973, but haven’t been checked yet. By 1993, this could not cope with demand or planned additional houses at Miller’s Green. A new sewer was built from this site, which continued to collect sewage, then pumped uphill to a point about 2m below the man hole outside no 59 The Common, before flowing downhill all the way to the new site on the left of the Clows Top road. Reedbeds deal with the water, the remaining sludge is removed by tanker every so often.
The sewer pipe drops to a depth of about 5m at the corner of The Common and the Clows Top road to overcome the rise in ground level, the first 3m being glacial boulder clay and then into coal measures sandstone.
The new sewer trench however cut through the old route of the drains from the back of Churchfield Terrace. In the summer of 2003, water started oozing out of the sides of the tarmac repair to the trench. Strenuous jetwashing by one of the Churchfield Terrace residents who was fed up with the smell then caused a mud volcano to erupt through the tarmac in the road at the bottom of no 59’s drive. Eventually, Severn Trent did dye tests to check where the problem was coming from which resulted in red liquid also coming out of the volcano and flowing down the road. A hole was dug and the severed drains were connected into the new sewer.