Artesian well at Oare Marshes to flow again

Locals, visitors and sailors will be able to drink again from the artesian well at Oare Marshes thanks to Kent Wildlife Trust and a £10,000 grant from Swale Borough Council.

The natural spring, which reaches 250 feet into the earth, was tapped by the local Mining Machinery and Improvement Company in the early 1900s.

Entrusted to Kent Wildlife Trust since 1982, the well has been a highlight for visitors and walkers who refill their water bottles while exploring the natural landscape.

Local sailors are also said to drink from the well, and the surrounding marshland and wildlife rely on the spring’s flowing water.

Over the past few decades, Kent Wildlife Trust have carried out extensive work to make the marshland one of the top bird watching sites in the county, and the freshwater that the well provides attracts internationally important numbers of waders and wildfowl, including lapwing, golden plover and snipe.

The traditional grazing marsh is criss-crossed with dykes and open water scrapes flanked by tall reeds that rely on the well’s freshwater and on a good day, visitors can spot common seals in the Swale estuary.

The water at the well stopped flowing at the end of last year and months of investigative work followed to identify the problem and find a solution.

South East Water’s lead hydrogeologist visited the well and advised Kent Wildlife Trust to reline the 100+ year-old cast-iron pipework.

After recommending some skilled local contractors, Kent Wildlife Trust has now identified their preferred contractor and successfully applied for funding from the council.

Funding was also received from The H R Pratt Boorman Family Foundation and a local band called Touch the Earth.

Faversham

Work to the well is due to start early this year and the well will reopen by the Spring.

Stephen Weeks, Kent Wildlife Trust’s Area Manager said:

“We are delighted the council was able to provide the funding to repair the well.

“We’ve been working hard to identify the problem, find suitable contractors and gather estimates since it stopped flowing just over a year ago.

“It’s been a complex process but we’re thankful to have the funding in place to repair the well and have it open again to the public next year.

“We rely on funding and the hours of time that our volunteers donate each year to help us restore and protect the wildlife at this special site and we’re grateful for the support shown by the local community.”

Councillor Tim Valentine, cabinet member for the environment at the council, said:

“We are delighted to allocate funding from our special projects fund to fix the artesian well in Oare Marshes.

“This fund provides up to £1 million every year to help pay for meaningful local projects that enhance our community.”

Councillor Mike Baldock, cabinet member for planning and heritage at the council, said:

“We’re pleased to support the trust in their efforts to repair this historic well.

“It’s an important landmark for the area and it’s essential that we do all we can to preserve our local heritage.”