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Deal’s Early Freshwater Schemes


Deal was once a mainly agricultural village centered around the parish church of St Leonard’s. Therefore it must be safe to say that there was a reliable and easily accessible water source nearby.  
However, this could not be said for the rapidly growing ‘New Town of Deale’ on the foreshore. Here the people obviously dug wells but, being so near to the sea, the water was often brackish. To supplement this, rainwater was also collected in tanks or cisterns that were made of whatever was available to them. 
With the growth of the town, a reliable water source was needed not just to supply the people residing there, but also the merchant and naval shipping anchored in the Downs as well as the Naval Yard. 
Ships were often supplied with barrels of water that were carried out to them by smaller vessels. Barrels were also tied together and the floating barrels were then towed out to the awaiting ship. 

 A Grant of Letters Patent 

By 1688 two men had, they thought, come up with a solution and on 21 July that year,  Edward Burdett and William Ryder, were granted Letters patent from James II to enable them to bring freshwater into Deal and to supply the shipping in the Downs. 

The entry in the Calendar for the patent rolls says “The King the 21st July Grants unto Edward Burdett and William Ryder License
to convey in pipes Freshwater to Deal in Kent for 99 years”

The Patent itself tells us that the water brought from Deal to His Majesty’s Ships was often brackish and unfit to drink and that Burdett was willing “at his own charge to bring freshwater from a spring …to the town… The King gave his license” for that purpose and “…to erect a conduit head and wharf upon the beach for the …convenience of the ships and vessels…”  It also says that Edward Burdett requested that William Ryder Esq. Should have “full and sole license liberty and authority…” to carry out this proposal. The right to dig up at “…suitable times the highways and streets…” of Deal to lay the pipes and to repair these as and when necessary was also given.