Grantham Civic Society column: Conduit is now a protected ancient monument
In 1314, the Greyfriars, a Franciscan order who had settled in Grantham in about 1290, obtained permission from the Bishop of Durham, to enclose a spring of water in the south field of Gonerby, and pipe water in lead pipes to their house in Grantham, west of the Market Place.
The water was piped about ¾ mile in total. They had to replace any soil dug out, so that the pasture lands were not damaged.
After the dissolution of the religious orders in 1539, their property was granted to Robert Bocher and David Vincent. The Grange was built on the site of the friary about 1542, which continued to use the water supply.
In 1597 the Corporation built the Conduit in the market place, supplied by a branch of the Greyfriars pipe, which separated off at the boundary of the new Grange lands. The then owner of the Grange, Robert Bery (Bury), is mentioned on the Conduit, and he was also Alderman in 1597. Robert Parkins who had been Alderman several times, is also mentioned. He may have provided money towards its construction. There is also an inscription from Proverbs 5:16, which says ‘Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad and rivers of water in the streets’. The Conduit contained a cistern to collect and contain the water and act as a storage tank. An intake house was also built over the spring, in the fields between Dysart Road and Barrowby Road.
The pipe work needed regular maintenance and a keeper of the Conduit was employed by the Corporation. If much work was required, the money was raised by public donation. Fines were also introduced for people washing clothes in the Conduit waters.
In 1684, an agreement was made between the then owner of the Grange, Robert Fysher, that the Corporation would maintain the water pipes from the spring or Conduit Leyes, to the Fryers Walls, and Fysher would maintain the pipes from there to the Market Place. Water carts were also rented from the Corporation for £3 per year, to have water carried from the Conduit and taken to their houses.
The Conduit continued to provide a water supply for the town until a new water system became operational in 1851. The water was obtained from springs at Stroxton, which were fed into a reservoir at Spittlegate Hill. These too later became inadequate and a new pumping station was commissioned at Saltersford, which drew water from lakes in Stoke Park and the Cringle Brook.
The Conduit, Intake House and pipe work were repaired many times over the centuries, including in the late nineteenth century, replacing the old lead pipes with iron ones. The Intake House was vandalised and totally destroyed in the 1960s and 70s.
The Conduit no longer functions as a water supply, but is now protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The inscription is now becoming worn and is in urgent need of restoration. It is to be hoped that SKDC will be able restore it before becomes irreversibly damaged.