Water flows once again from the Harty Ferry Well at Oare Marshes

People exploring Oare Marshes nature reserve can once again refill their water bottles from the Harty Ferry Well.

Kent Wildlife Trust was awarded £10,000 by Swale Borough Council to repair the natural spring, which reaches 250 feet into the earth and stopped flowing at the end of 2018 due to the crumbling of the 100+-year-old cast iron pipework. 

First tapped by the local Mining Machinery and Improvement Company in the early 1900s, the well was entrusted to Kent Wildlife Trust in 1982 and has been a highlight for visitors and walkers who refill their water bottles while exploring the natural landscape, as well a victory for the surrounding marshland and wildlife which rely on the spring's flowing water. 

The Trust worked with South East Water’s lead hydrogeologist to carry out months of investigative work to identify the problem and located a specialist local firm to reline the cast iron pipework. 

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Laura Steuart, Swale Area Warden and Stephen Weeks, Coastal and Wetlands Area Manager

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

“Since the well was entrusted to us almost 40 years ago, this is only the second time we’ve had to commission repairs, which is quite miraculous given how old the well is. 

“The well is really important in that it contributes a large volume of water that flows into the wetland area of the reserve and also provides a constant source of clean drinking water for the animals as well as people – something that is especially important during the current heatwave. 

“I want to thank Swale Council for committing £10,000 to help us fund the relining of the cast iron pipework, as well as The H R Pratt Boorman Family Foundation and local band called Touch the Earth for their contributions. 

“I also want to thank the team at South East Water for helping us identify the problem and OT Drilling of Wormshill, Sittingbourne for carrying out the work to such a high standard. 

“We couldn’t have done it without everybody involved.” 

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Councillor Tim Valentine (Swale), Janet Hill (Oare Parish Council), Councillor Mike Baldock (Swale), Laura Steuart (Swale Area Warden), and Stephen Weeks (Coastal and Wetlands Area Manager)

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

“We’re delighted that the well is running and available for the locals and visitors who visit our wonderful Oare marshes. 

“We test the water every year and it always receives an outstanding result and this year is no different. 

“We’re very lucky to have so much outdoor space and naturally beautiful areas like the Oare marshes to visit, and this has never been more important than in recent months. 

“We encourage people to get out and see the local treasures we have across the borough safely.” 

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

“We’re pleased to help Kent Wildlife Trust get the water flowing again from this 100+-year-old well. 

“Maintaining and restoring heritage across the borough is a key priority for us, so I’m delighted we were able to provide £10,000 funding to repair this popular well. 

"The well is a big draw for walkers and tourists, mentioned in hundreds of books and online guides, and we are proud to have been part of the team to bring it back into use so that visitors will see it in its full glory once again."