Well drilling in WinterbourneJohn Turner's grandfather (Fisher Ray), together with son William (Bill) Ray, came to Winterbourne looking for water. During his time working in Winterbourne, Bill Ray (John's uncle) met and married his wife Dora and liked life in Winterbourne so much that he stayed. John's grandfather went back to his wife and family up north.
You can read the full story » below.
Here's an interesting reference:
L. Richardson: Wells and Springs of Gloucestershire. (Water Supply Memoirs of Gt.Britain). HMSO, 1936. Reference to origins of West Gloucs. Water Company and a record of boring.
This is the entry for Frampton Cotterell:
John has some old photographs of a drilling rig being prepared for action, from the Ray family collection.
Frampton Cotterell is on the Coal Measures and is supplied by the West Gloucestershire Water Company. Houses in the parish not so served depend on wells and springs. In 1882 E B Wethered wrote 'Some years ago it was proposed to supply a portion of Bristol with water from the Frampton Cotterell iron mines, which are in the Pennant, and the analysis made of the water showed it to be of good quality'. Subsequently an iron mine here was acquired by the West Gloucestershire Water Company. Boring at Frampton Cotterell - West Gloucestershire Water Co. Made and communicated by Messrs C Isler and Co.Ltd 1925. Lined 76ft 8in tubes top 1 ft below surface. Yield. 3,050 gallons per hour.
They are identical to these taken by Dorothy Hewitt, a coal-miner's daughter who lived at Serridge House. They were found in boxes of photographs that came from her house after she died.
There is a big exercise underway by the South Gloucester Mines Research Group to catalogue all the images and document her life.
So what's the connection between drilling for water and drilling for coal in Winterbourne?
(This appears to be a photograph of the same rig and crew but at a different location)
Notes: In 1890 Bristol Waterworks laid a ten-inch water main in the High Street.
Main drainage was laid in the High Street in 1954 and in Green Lane/Swan Lane in 1964.
A Family Story of Water Boring in Winterbourne
My mother Helen Turner (nee Ray) wrote a biography. So, I have been reading through it to try to establish the time when her father, Fisher Ray (my grandfather) and her eldest brother William Ray (my uncle) were working in Winterbourne.
Her father Fisher Ray was working for a Water Boring Company (although I can't find out the company name) before my mother was born, and travelled the country with his wife and family. My mother (their fifth child) was born at Kersley near Coventry in 1907 and not long after, the family decided to settle in Doncaster. Fisher was still working away at this time and sent letters home to Doncaster.
According to the biography, Fisher and William were working here in Winterbourne before and during the First World War until William was called up at 18 years old in 1917. William met a girl while working in Winterbourne before the war. Her name was Dora Smart born 8th Feb 1898.
Dora visited Doncaster quite often as my Mother's biography explains, as William was working for a while in Doncaster after the war. They were married in Winterbourne Church on the 18th April 1927, where they made their home (which was quite a few years after they met). He was 27 and she was 28.
William went to work at the Bristol Aeroplane Company and worked his way up from the shop floor to a senior management position until he retired.
Will and Dora had a son named Maurice who tragically died of diptheria at the age of nine. Maurice was very involved with the church and was very sadly missed by all. This was recorded in the church magazine at the time.
My mother Helen came and stayed with Will and Dora for holidays and during that time, got to know some of the local people who were friends of Dora and Will. One couple were Reg and Florrie Turner (married 12th Sept 1938). Florrie was an old friend of Dora. Reg and Florrie moved down to Langford in Somerset to work for Canon Burrough, Rector of Winterbourne. They had a baby daughter named Ann. Unfortunately Florrie died not long after Ann was born and Reg moved back to Winterbourne with Ann.
Dora and Will on their visits to Doncaster told my Mother Helen the sad news and how they felt sorry for Reg and perhaps Helen would like to write to him to cheer him up. Helen eventually wrote, more out of sympathy than anything else. The letters became more frequent and friendly till Helen invited him up to meet her family who approved and she visited his family and met Reg's little girl Ann, who was two years old by now. They married in Doncaster in April 1944, and settled in Reg's house in Winterbourne where they had three more children, Pat, John and Judith.
So, because a man named Mr Fisher Ray came to Winterbourne in search of water is how I came to be born in Winterbourne and my Uncle, Bill Ray married and settled here. Life is interesting isn't it ?
John Turner 2006