In May of this year a structure near Redbridge Lane was photographed, which set off questions about what appeared to be a pump. Buried in deep undergrowth, it was filmed by Bob Moore, revealing clear evidence of a water wheel and iron work. Bob added the link to Facebook, from where the Basingstoke Heritage Society wanted to know more about it.

The building is included in ‘Mills and Millers of North Hampshire’ where it explained that the pump was installed to provide water to Hackwood House from the many springs here.

Hackwood House has a long history since Hag-Wode was enclosed for hunting in the 13th century by a member of the Brayboeuf family, Lords of the Manor of Eastrop. There was likely a hunting lodge, later expanded. By the 16th century Hackwood was in the hands of the Paulet (Basing House) family and through many twists and turns to the Dukes of Bolton. The present house was begun in 1683.

We looked online at the Hampshire Record Office, soon turning up some interesting looking and relevant pieces of correspondence. We also featured it in our Members’ Newsletter and this brought out a real treasure – slides taken by a resident of Old Basing in 1972 for a publication called Hampshire Treasures.

Hampshire Record Office sent us copies of relevant documents, which included correspondence between a certain Thomas Simpson of Chelsea Water Works and the representative for Lord Bolton at Hackwood. Simpson was a pioneer for iron pipework – these letters dated from 1799 and 1821.

By the early 1800s William, 2nd Baron Bolton wanted improvements at Hackwood and all this required more water! He engaged Lewis Wyatt as architect, who worked on the house for some years, even taking time to design a new town hall for Basingstoke, now the Willis Museum. Lewis Wyatt was a member of a long family of architects. He also designed the Bolton Arch, now the entrance to Crabtree and modelled on a building from ancient Greece!

In 1821, Lewis Wyatt wrote to the Duke’s representative, urging that the best quality work should be afforded. He wrote: “The accompanying estimate has been made by Mr Simpson from his plan, being what he should recommend and tho’ it may be done for less money by slighter works - I agree with him in thinking that it would be bad economy to have it done in any other than the best manner.” In today’s prices, around £26,000 for pipework etc., was spent.

None of the photos taken in 2021 gave the evidence needed, but the 1972 slides, when scanned and enlarged, showed the name “Simpson & Son, Engineers, London” on part of the ironwork. A track, known as ‘The Pipes’ followed the water course from the pump to Hackwood.

The early use of iron work, makes the pump house potentially a Listable structure. It is very overgrown and for the time being should be left alone pending Listing enquiries by the Conservation Officer at B&D. In any case, the Pump house is on private land, still owned by descendants of Viscount Camrose who owned Hackwood.

Debbie Reavell

Basingstoke Heritage Society