Retro: Watery wit about strange goings-on in Sheffield village

Ray Battye at the old Worrall washing trough that prompted Michael Parker to contact Retro
Ray Battye at the old Worrall washing trough that prompted Michael Parker to contact Retro
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That indefatigable digger-out of historical curios, Michael Parker, has been at it again and he’s found another gem.

Michael, who lives in Deepcar, wrote: “I’ve been reading with interest the articles in local newspapers regarding the rare trough in need of rescue located at Worrall, which reminded me of the following article that appears in the Oughtibridge Notes column on p4 of the January 12, 1900 edition of the Penistone Express which relates that:

‘One of the pretty sights at Oughtibridge just now is the foam-fretted stream of beautiful water that rushes down the rocky channel in Cockshutts lane. This is the overflow from Oughtibridge Water Works.

‘A stranger seeing this, and the much finer streams that take Oughtibridge in their course, would be surprised to learn that a large proportion of the villagers suffer from scarcity of water in the summer months, yet such is the deplorable fact.

‘A very small proportion of houses have water on the sink, and the introduction of baths in houses is a startling innovation, but I see baths are one of the convenient accessories in the new houses in course of erection by Mr J Fairest.

‘While cogitating on the Oughtibridge water supply, I wonder if the inhabitants are aware that their water is used for medicinal purposes.

‘Of course, I’m not taking into account the quantity of “aqua pura” that the local practitioners use, but the case of a poor fellow suffering from a bad leg, who was recommended by his doctor to bathe the diseased member in a stream of spring water.

‘This man, knowing of no better or handier stream than the Cockshutts spring, used it daily for some time, and ultimately a cure was effected.

‘One cannot imagine that this grateful man will keep the cause of his recovery secret, and the Oughtibridge water may acquire an enviable or unenviable notoriety, just as people take it, or apply it.

‘The majority may object to drink diluted bad leg, but considering the length of piping that the water has to pass through, there is a possibility that it will clear itself, like is said the river Don water does in the country below Sheffield.

‘Some of the ancients believed that certain animals possessed souls. However that may be, we are not disposed to deny them privileges, so we drink after the cows, horses, and dogs that use our trough, but we ought to draw the line at football and cricket players using it to wash their muddy shoes, and to the gentlemen who find it convenient to wash their dogs’.

“Which I suppose draws attention (even if somewhat sarcastically!) to the ways in which communal water sources were put to use in times gone by!

“I wonder precisely where this particular trough was sited and if it is still in situ; besides what period it would date from.”