Ever wonder what came BTWC (Before the Water Cooler)? Here’s our first instalment about the history of water supply in the UK – hold onto your cups, because this timeline gets a little hairy at times!


Franciscan Friars lay a pipeline into Cambridge from a spring one kilometre outside the town. Religious communities acquired a good reputation for water supply management in the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.


The mayor of London asked the Abbot of Westminster to help provide fresh water for the 55,000 people of the city.


A system of lead pipes was laid under the streets of Hull. Householders paid for pumps to extract the water.


Peter Morris (a Dutchman) installed an ingenious pump below London Bridge. It was driven by a waterwheel and forced water up a tower over 100 feet high into a big tank, or cistern. The water was then strained through a mesh and fed through large wooden pipes and small lead pipes to houses in London. Five wheels had been built by 1582.


Sir Francis Drake helped Plymouth Corporation persuade Parliament to build a water system to bring water 25km across the moors to the town. Water was stored in cisterns to be used without charge. The supply served for 300 years.


Britain’s first flushing toilet called a water closet was designed by Queen Elizabeth’s godson.


Oxford used covered gullies to collect spring water from Hinksey Hill. The gullies lead to a 90,000 litre tank protected by a stone house.


In York, water from the River Ouse was pumped by wind power into a tank on the top of Lendal Tower. This provided water inside the walls of the city.


Alexander Cumming re-invented the Water Closet.


James Prosser improved it.


Joseph Bramah perfected the modern flushing toilet.

Each week, we’ll wend our watery way through the historical dates to the big ol’ 21st century and see how far we’ve progressed in terms of having access to fresh, clean, potable water.

At AquAid, we’re pleased to say that we offer the aforementioned potable water in a variety of forms, from bottle fed through to mains fed water coolers. Water comes from 3 different sources throughout the U.K.

Plus, revenue from sales is donated by AquAid to sustainable charities like Christian Aid and The Africa Trust. The Africa Trust being all about people in far flung rural communities in Africa being able to have access to potable water. Rather fabulous, to think that you drinking water from a water cooler in Gretna Green means many people in Africa will have access to safe drinking water too.