A little bit of history: The Barbados Water Supply Company, Limited

barbados water supply (click photo for large)

October 1, 1891 Debenture

You know how it is… you’re just surfing the net going from one thing to another and suddenly you’re into an area of interest you’ve never seen before. In this case it’s a debenture from 1891 for The Barbados Water Supply Company, Limited and it’s for sale for US$139.95 at Scripophily.com.

Then from there I ended up in the UK government archives, again in 1891, reading about how the Barbados Water Supply Company needed more time to finish laying water supply pipes. (A cynic might say the job still isn’t finished!)

“1 item (enclosure with report by Acting Attorney General W Herbert Greaves, 7 November 1891) extracted from CO 28/231. ‘Barbados. Parsons small scale map’: showing water pipes laid and stand pipes erected. Reference note. Compass indicator. Signed: P N S Jones, Resident Engineer, 2 November 1891. The report concerned an act extending the time granted to the Barbados Water Supply Company, Ltd, to complete their works.”

There’s all sorts of Barbados documents in the UK archives and I could spend hours exploring, but I’ll leave that for Sunday.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “A little bit of history: The Barbados Water Supply Company, Limited

  1. John

    A piece of History.

    After the 1854 Cholera Epidemic which killed about 20,000 Bajans in three months, a private water supply company, the Bridgetown Water Supply Company, was contracted by Government to pipe water from Benn Spring in Newcastle Woods, St. John (Under the cliff) to Bridgetown. The fountain by the Treasury Building commemorates the feat. I am told that some of original cast iron mains of that period remain in service today.

    To supply rural Barbados, a second private company was formed. It was the Barbados Water Supply Company. It was contracted to lay mains and supply water to the country via standpipes located at various locations.

    Cholera had made everyone realize just how important clean water was. People still had not figured how cholera spread but observed the link to water. The microscope was only invented in the 1880’s.

    It is amazing to see the various horizontal tunnels dug in the country to access the few known underground streams, a testimony to the desperation which cholera had caused islandwide and the attempts to avoid a recurrence.

    The Barbados Water Supply Company and the Bridgetown Water Supply Company soon came into conflict as one was getting water from Bowmanston and the other from Everton, both fed from the same stream. As demand increased the inability to supply caused the companies to go to court.

    Government stepped in and preempted the fight. It took over both supply companies forming the Water Works Department. I believe that was in the 1890’s.

    I’ll see if I can dig up an extract from the 1946 Senn Report which describes this history.

  2. John

    Correction, Bridgetown Waterworks Company.

    The “Short History” is a bit long in Senn …. 11 pages so far in Word!!

  3. Charles

    I enjoyed reading about the history of the famous barbadian cocktail (Bowmanston Special)

  4. Anonymous

    thank you! I am a writer. This info is very helpful to assist in reconstructing the past.