Click Here for Site Index 

Local Information - Water (updated 19.1.08)

Click on image for larger version

Hartley Pumping Station


Hartley receives its drinking water from South East Water Company, but our sewerage is the responsibility of Southern Water.  South East Water and Mid Kent Water merged in December 2007.

With the continual development that has occurred in Hartley since the first world war, there is pressure on water supplies.  This has been recognised by the Environment Agency ("Identifying areas of water stress", Jan 2007), which identifies the Mid-Kent water area as one where water stress is 'serious'.  However their proposed solution is not to reduce development, but to impose water metering.

At present many properties are metered, but probably the majority still pay by water rates.  A survey of water meter coverage in selected roads is set out below:



Percent on meter

Carmelite Way

Jul 2007


Cherry Trees (not shops)

Jul 2007


Downs Valley/Parkfield

Jul 2007


Figures based on number of water meter covers on pavement at property edge.  Usually the water meter covers are clearly visible so those not apparent were counted as water rate properties.

A general account of Hartley's geology is to be found on a separate page.  Both the chalk and the greensand are porous rocks that can hold water. Thus rain that falls on the North Downs percolates down into the chalk, and collects in the rock, the upper level of this is called the "Water Table".  Hartley has two water tables, one each in the chalk and greensand with a layer of impervious clay in between.  See Mid Kent website for current watertable levels (Stansted borehole).

Before Mains Water
Hartley has no running water, so all the water has to come from wells and rainwater tanks.  Wells are known to have existed at Hartley Cottage, Hartley Court, Hartley Wood Corner, and Middle Farm, and no doubt at all the other farms.  The water arrangements of several buildings in Hartley were listed in the 1901 Manor sale particulars:

Hartley Manor - "deep well under cover in front of the house, and exceptionally large rain-water storage"; pump and well with hose (in case of fire).  Force-pump for supplying soft water from tanks in one of the kitchens.
Hartley Court - "there is a tiled wellhouse with triple pump worked by a wind engine, and pumping from a well which has recently been deepened, and a reservoir formed at the bottom by cutting headings, and in addition two reservoir tanks have been built on the surface.  Pipes have also been laid (about half-a-mile in length, besides branches) to the Manor House, and to the farm buildings, fields and gardens adjoining."
Fairby - "there are three large tanks for storing rain water from these buildings, and the requisite pumps from same".
Hartley Green - cottages can use well in garden of Hartley Cottage.

In the December 1931 Parish Magazine, Rev Bancks wrote:

"But there was a time when the houses at the upper end of the village were dependent upon a well at the back of the Court. The water was drawn by a horse, fastened to a pole, one bucket going down as the other came up. Near by was a large stone cistern. This was filled up once a day, and people came with yokes and pails and carried it to their houses. All the wells in the parish, I think, except the one at .the Retory, are now out of action."

Mains Water
This is one of the milestones in Hartley's development, for mains water enabled far more people to live here than before.  The lack of easily obtained water historically limited the amount of cattle kept in North Kent, as stock needed to run from field to field to drink from the ponds, or water had to be fetched from deep wells.[1]

The Mid Kent Water Order 1901 empowered the company to lay mains to Hartley and the neighbouring parishes.  The parish meeting of January 1901 opposed mains water, but it appears this decision was reversed two months later and water arrived the following year. Originally it only went as far as Mintmakers, Church Road, but was extended to the remainder in 1913.

In 1907 the fact of mains water was a selling point for the Payne and Trapps Estate at Wellfield.  It is uncertain where the water came from at this time.  In 1925 the parish protested about the high charges of the water company (PRO HLG 50/1015); this was followed up by a complaint by Dartford Rural District Council in 1932.  The charges were reduced in 1933.

According to parish council records the mains were relaid in Hoselands Hill in 1982 and in Church Road/Manor Drive in 1990.

Water Charges
Because of higher environmental standards required these days, the price of water has risen sharply in recent years.  In 1975 there were complaints when the charge rose from 6p to 10p in the pound of rateable value.  Currently (2006) households are charged a standing charge of £49 plus 60.68p in the pound rateable value.  The standard metered charge is 89.98p per cubic metre, but lower Social and Medico tariffs are available.


Standing Charge Water

Water Rate (per £ RV)

Standing Charge

Sewerage Rate (per £ RV)



















































Hartley Pumping Station
The first proposal to build a pumping station at Hartley and Longfield came not from Mid-Kent, but for the Croydon Corporation in 1935.  The bill did not pass in Parliament, but it prompted Mid-Kent and the Gravesend and Milton Waterworks Co to discuss their own project in Hartley.  The North West Kent Joint Water Act 1936 empowered the two companies to set up the "Hartley Water Committee" to build a well in Hartley.  It was 52½% owned by Mid Kent and 47½% by Gravesend, and the water was to be divided in the same proportions.  The Committee compulsorily purchased about 50 acres of land in Hartley Bottom Road, most of which they subsequently sold to Hartley Bottom Farm.

A 354 feet deep well, 4 boreholes (and joining adits 2,566 feet long) were sunk into the Chalk in 1938, this was capable of pumping a minimum 1,000,000 gallons per day, tests in 1938 and 1944 found the capacity was 2¼ mgd.  The surface catchment area for the station is some 6½ - 7 square miles.

The pumping station came on line in April 1944, but plans to lay a 12" main to the Exedown reservoir were scrapped, instead 1,000 yards of 4" main were quickly laid to Ash.  Local power shortages meant that initially it could only pump 0.88 million gallons per day (0.19 mgd to Mid Kent area, and 0.69 mgd to Gravesend).  

In 1949 the Minister of Health gave permission to deepen one of the boreholes from 475 feet to 750 feet to tap the underlying Greensand.  The station had 4 pumps capable of pumping 22,000 - 47,000 gallons per hour each.

Because of difficulty in recruitment the company decided to build the Cottage in Hartley Bottom Road in 1946.

A routine analysis of the water in 1967 found the water was "clear and bright", which may come as a surprise to those of us who remember the snowstorm in a glass of water of those days.  For a chalk area it was unsurprisingly alkaline (pH 7.2).  The main trace solids being Calcium (248 parts per million), Magnesium (12 ppm), Silica (14 ppm). Then the water was very slightly chlorinated. (Refs: PRO HLG 127/464, HLG 23/27531, Mid Kent Water Website)

The Hartley Water Committee was abolished in 1973, by section 33 of the Water Act 1973.

Before mains drainage people in the rural areas relied on earth closets and cess pools.  Others buried sewage in the garden or put it with household slops in garden slop pools (Report of R Deane Sweetly to Diptheria Outbreak in Dartford Rural Area, 1899 - PRO MH12/....).

The threat of disease from untreated sewage was a great concern, particularly in the 1890s when there were a number of diptheria outbreaks, including Hartley in 1898.  In 1895 the Dartford Rural District Council decided to start removing refuse and emptying cesspools, charging the cost to the rates.  It appears this measure to improve public health was bitterly opposed by Hartley and Longfield, Mr Barnes wrote to the Local Government Board to complain on behalf of the parish meeting.  He said it was "one of the most scandalous that has ever been made".  He argued that it would only benefit the urban areas, and wasn't needed in Hartley with its large gardens.  Longfield parish submitted a 27 signature petition.  However Hartley had relented by 1897.

From 1936 to 1942 responsibility for emptying cesspools and collecting rubbish was undertaken by the Ash and District Joint Sanitary Committee.  The Rural District Council took over in 1942.

Mains sewerage was laid onto to Ash Road in 1960, and Church Road followed in 1963 after some problems with the bankruptcy of the contractors.  There are still some properties on cesspool drainage, most notably the Manor Field Pavilion.

Overflowing sewers have caused problems on occasion, particularly in Church Road, where problems have occurred in 1975, 1985, 1993 and 1999.

[1] L Dudley-Stamp (ed) - "The Land of Britain - Kent" (p 601)