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Pump Hut

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Both photos taken prior to 1988 before Church House was built. Note the cast iron pipe protruding in the photograph on the right. More current photos and plan at the bottom of the page. I took far too many internal photographs and those published reflect a few.

OnThursday 24th January 2019 we visited the POW pump hut with the permission of the owner. This was the last opportunity to examine this war time building prior to the sale of Church House to a new owner. The current owner has lived in the property which has the hut adjacent in their garden since the house was built in 1988.

The hut is built of war me concrete block. It is in very good condition for its age. There is no doubt as to when it was built for it bears a cement inscribed plaque ‘31.10.1943 Built by POW’. It sits upon an 8 inch thick concrete base/raft placed over the well/static water tank.

The internal floor area is 7’ 2” x 6’ 0”
The external floor area is 8’ 9” x 7’ 9”
(All measurements correct to within a couple of inches)

The roof is made of a single concrete slab which sits upon the concrete blocks and overhangs the edges of the walls by a few inches. It slopes from left to right (as viewed with your back to the door) in accordance with the measurements given. From an internal inspection it can be seen that wooden planks were placed on the roof before the concrete was laid. I do not know whether or not there are metal reinforcement rods in the concrete. When the concrete was set and the wood removed, the imprint of the wood can be seen.

The walls are built of war time concrete blocks (similar to modern day breeze blocks) and crudely 'pointed' with mortar and externally rendered.

The entrance door is a modern replacement. The only window no longer has any glass in it and the wooden frame may not be original.

It is not possible to assess what is under the base. It appears to be a stable four sided concrete block static water tank with an earth base to allow water from the water table to flow into it

In the near left hand corner of the hut is a low block plinth rendered smooth by cement. It is at a convenient size to sit upon but more likely to be used to temporarily place jerry cans of fuel for the pump.

In the far left hand corner of the hut can be seen the base of the fittings since removed. There is a small surround made of brick and rendered smooth with cement. This is adjacent to the back wall. The surround/base encircles a hole made into the concrete base and the water underneath can be seen through it. The surround continues to form a ‘foot bath’ type of retaining wall; probably to contain any waste spillage. In addition the surround has a base made of brick and rendered smooth with cement with fastening bolts hammered over.

It is most likely that a Lister 2hp stationary petrol or diesel pumping engine was bolted to this plinth base. The incoming water pipe would have been connected to the well opening as described here and the out going water pipe connected to the (remains of) pipe exiting through the wall and onwards to the POW camp. Ventilation from the pump exhaust fumes would be achieved by leaving the door open during operation or opening the window. It was likely that the pump was only used during daylight hours when the header water tank in the POW camp needed topping up.

In the near right hand corner of the hut is a rectangular manhole 2’ 6” by 2’ 0”.

The metal man hole cover is heavily rusted with rust flaking off thus making it unsafe to bear heavy weights. It fits down into the concrete base whilst resting on a lip. It is not permanently fixed and could be lifted up for inspection. In the centre there is a pipe which is capped. Around the edges of the pipe can be seen the remains the traditional plumbers’ hemp for packing with grease and sealing this join.

I can only assume that beneath the metal plate the pipe reached down into the water whilst above the plate the pipe would have risen to a comfortable height and capped with a hand pumped bilge pump. The would have allowed water to be pumped up for simple jobs, such as filling the reservoir for the stationary pumping engine.

The far right corner of the hut is free from any evidence of fittings.

There is no evidence of electricity ever being installed in the building. Bearing in mind its location during the war years then this is a perfectly reasonable assumption.

The graffiti painted on the inside walls is unlikely to be war time and if not painted in red by the owners; then could have been done during the time when the plot was just empty before a house was built upon it.

Inside measurements with back to door :-

Left height ground to ceiling = 8’ 1½”
Right height ground to ceiling = 7’ 2”

Left length wall to wall = 7’ 2”

Nearside width wall to wall = 6’ 0”
Farside width wall to wall = 6’ 0”

Outside measurements :-

Outside length = 8’ 9”
Outside width = 7’ 9”
Door width = 2’ 8”
Height of doorway = 6’ 3”
Width of block walls = 0’ 10”

Thickness of roof slab = 0’ 5”
Thickness of floor slab = 0’ 8”

Other internal measurements :-

Metal manhole = 2’ 6” x 2’ 0”
Brick and rendered surround = 0’ 3½”

The depth of the well and level of water was calculated using the following method.

A length of string was attached to a wooden spade handle and lowered into the tank until it sank below the water level an inch or more. The string was marked level with the top of the brick surround. When the string was pulled out the distance from the mark to the high water mark on the wooden handle was measured and found to be 2’ 9”.

A length of string was attached to a heavy metal crowbar and lowered into the tank until it hit the bottom. This was repeated a few times in order to decide whether or not there was a solid base or if the crowbar sunk into the soft soil.

It was decided that there was not a solid base. The string was raised to the top of the brick surround and any slack in the string removed to keep a taught line. The measurement from the mark at the top to the bottom of the crow bar was found to be 7’ 10”.

Calculations :-

It was easy to measure the depth of the concrete base through the opening at 8” and the brick cement rendered surround at 3½”.

7’ 10” minus 11½” (ie 3½” + 8”) = 6’ 10½” Depth of well
2’ 09” minus 11½” (ie 3½” + 8”) = 1’ 9½” Depth to water
6’ 10½” minus 1’ 9½” = 5’ 1” Depth of water


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© Mike Millichamp 2019