Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Bridleway crossing - standpipe


In times past, people and organisations used ponds, streams and wells for their water, but during the 1930’s standpipes were introduced.  These tapped directly into springs and the water table to provide much cleaner water.  The metal standpipe at the bridleway crossing is one such facility and was manufactured by ‘Glenfield and Kennedy Ltd of Kilmarnock’ in cast iron.

Glenfield & Kennedy Ltd - standpipe
photo by Geoff Hall [18 Dec 2017]
Water standpipe between Nocton and Dunston
photo by Geoff Hall [18 Dec 2017]


The standpipe was originally sited close to the narrow-gauge track that formed the Nocton Estate Light Railway.  This surplus track from WW1 proved to be a very efficient and effective way of transporting goods and materials around the estate.

Nocton owned two steam locomotives for use on their 'potato railway', supplemented by a number of smaller Simplex 20HP petrol locomotives.  The only detailed information remaining about these steam locomotives, is that one of them was a 'Fowler 0-6-0 tank' engine - which was delivered to Nocton in 1926.

Both steam locomotives would have required water during their daily operation - and it is possible the standpipe was used for topping-up.  There was also a steam traction engine that powered the threshing machines during the 1940's and this would probably have required water during its operation too.

Whilst the Fowler locomotive could haul a 30 ton load (compared to the Simplex 20-25 ton load), it proved too heavy for the narrow-gauge track operating on Nocton Fen.  After a number of derailments and after restricting use to the other parts of the estate, it was soon sold on.

It is possible the standpipe was used to irrigate crops, but the most likely use was for providing water to :
  • livestock [pigs, sheep and cattle] in the crew yards and fields, and
  • remote farms and cottages around the estate

The workers and farming families around the estate relied on their clean and potable water deliveries, otherwise their only source was from drainage dykes and rainwater.

'Water trains' operated every Tuesday and Friday to deliver clean water to these small communities.

[Source: The Lincolnshire Potato Railways by Stewart. E. Squires]

If you look carefully at the top of the pillar, there is a water coupling.

Water coupling
photo by Geoff Hall [18 Dec 2017]

Heritage Statement - Planning Application: 16/0654

The following reference is made:

14.6: "The standpipe shown above is located on the bridleway between Nocton and Dunston.  It is a relic of the water supply which was installed around the estate to provide easy access for the steam engines on the light railway. This would need to be removed and relocated to facilitate the widening of the field access.  It is of modest significance and should therefore not be considered as a constraint provided that it is refurbished and relocated."

Relief Track - Sheet 1 of 3 - Planning Application: 16/0654

Annotation to bridleway junction diagram:

"Standpipe highlighted in 14.6 of Heritage Statement to be retained, refurbished plus descriptive plaque added."


  1. Hello Geoff, I ve recently moved to Nocton.
    The Potatoe railway was something I was interested in, along with heritage steam lines generally.
    Do you know if the planned re-furb of the standpipe was still likely?
    kind regards

    1. Hi Neil, thank you for your comment. The land is owned by Beeswax Dyson Farming and you should direct your enquiry to Ben Wills who is their Property Manager. As far as I was aware the intention is to renovate the standpipe, but with all the ongoing work on the estate, it probably isn't a high priority item currently. I do hope it is renovated, as the standpipe is one of the last remnants of the potato railway at Nocton Estate. Kind regards, Geoff

  2. Hello Geoff
    We`ve just moved into the village.
    I am quite interested in the old potatoe railways , and heritage steam railways in general. Would you know if the plan to refurb the old standpipe is still on the cards? I would be quite keen to help.
    kind regards
    Neil Cheeseman

    1. Morning Neil, please see my reply to your original post. Cheers, Geoff

    2. thanks for that Geoff, ( apologies for the `double ` post by the way, I wasn't sure if I had managed to send it properly first time around!)

    3. No probs at all Neil. Good luck with your enquiries and thanks for your interest in the project. Welcome to Nocton. Kind regards.


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