There was a very good turnout for the on-site meeting about footpath 17b (near Little Hollingrove Farm) on Tuesday 20 March 2018. Two officers of East Sussex County Council’s Rights of Way team took a good look at the problem.
Prior to the days of mains water supply, the hamlet of Hollingrove was supplied with water from a brick-lined, spring-fed tank, and distributed by a quite elaborate system of clay pipes to various “dipping holes”. The tank is still there, and can be seen quite clearly in the map below (to the south of the path, under the word “Farm”).
The tank is part of the archaeological history of Brightling and the last thing anyone wants is to see it damaged or destroyed. In fact it would be nice to see it preserved, and these things were often beautifully made.
However it does appear that the tank may be the source (no pun intended) of the problems with the path. Most likely, one of the original outlets is blocked, with the result that water flows down the path for much of the year. Nevertheless (as anyone who has ever tried to track down a plumbing leak knows) the flow of water can be mysterious, and it is easy to jump to the wrong conclusion. So the decision (which I agree with, for what that’s worth) is that the path will be monitored to see and record how the water flow varies over the year.
One of the water flows appears to jump onto the path from just above the tank and it may be that this is not water coming out of the tank, but rather a spring which has chosen to go straight onto the path instead of into the tank. This is the kind of thing that monitoring may help to clarify – and if the problem is properly understood, then we are much more likely to get a solution that works. And, as I say, damaging the tank should not be part of any solution.
Parishioners can help by reporting (to me, or to the footpath team) any changes in the flow of water down the path over the year.
The Rights of Way noticed an attempted earlier repair in the form of a concrete-covered pipe. This was the way that things were done 20 or so years ago, but today we know better.
I wonder if someone with a living memory of the Hollingrove water supply system were to write down how it all worked, so that we have a proper historical record. Any takers?