History

The Bristol Waterworks Company came into being on July 16th 1846. It’s a long time ago, harking back to an age that is hard to connect to these days without conjuring up some vague memories of dull, history lessons.  It was, for example, the year Charles Dickens formed a national newspaper called the Daily News; in the fledgling US, the Liberty Bell was cracked whilst being rung to celebrate Washington’s birthday; Buffalo Bill was born and Emily Bronte began writing Wuthering Heights. Our monarch was Queen Victoria who had begun her ninth year on the throne…she still had 55 years to go!

Perhaps the biggest change from that age to now is the vast improvement in public health, and companies like Bristol Water were leading the way. The city had long suffered from devastating outbreaks of cholera and dysentery. In fact, a government survey from 1840 recorded the city to be one of the worst in the country.  However, the link between water pollution and disease was just starting to be made. One of our original directors – William Budd – was himself a leading advocate for cleaning up water supplies as his studies had shown that infectious disease could be spread through contaminated water. This sort of ground-breaking work was leading to the realisation that fresh, clean drinking water was essential. In fact, as it turned out, a cornerstone to modern society.

With this background the company was formed. Our original aim then, as it is today, was to supply good clean drinking water with a high quality service and that is value for money. The story of how we have endeavoured to achieve that aim is in this section.

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