Reprinted from Newsletter 115, dated 2005 May

Ultra-green plant to bottle dowsed water from White Spring

Jim Nagel

A new borehole has been sunk and the new bottling plant for Glastonbury Spring Water Ltd, at Park Corner Farm on the southeast foot of the Tor, is to be the epitome of a green business, said Ian Tucker.

Buildings will look as if they have been there since the 1800s. But they will be high-tech and “pretty well energy-neutral”. Solar panels will produce electricity and heat water, and heat pumps will extract heat from under the earth and store energy until it is needed. Sheepswool will provide insulation — a new technique using waste bits of wool, treated against bugs. Reed beds will take care of sewage.

“Nobody has ever linked all these things together before,” he said, and he reckons it will give Glastonbury Spring Water a marketing edge over its rivals.

Farm outbuildings put up by the past generation in asbestos and corrugated metal will be demolished, and any stone rubble reused as aggregate. New buildings will be clad in local stone and reclaimed pantiles. “We’re going for vernacular appearance.”

The new well was bored in late April, 50 metres deep, and water is now going through quality checks at the environment agency. It tastes just like the White Spring water, said Ian, and he is confident the lab tests will confirm that it comes from the same source (which, contrary to legend, is not the Welsh mountains).

Geological maps show the same rock strata at Park Corner Farm and at Wellhouse Lane, but pinpointing the faults in the rock and the best place to drill on the other side of the Tor was not simple for the geologists. The Tuckers called in 84-year-old George Applegate from Trowbridge, who is not only an engineer with 50 years’ experience but also a dowser. “He just walked across, said the fault line is here, this will be the best spot. It took him only half an hour.”

The new bottling plant is expected to be in operation next year. Meanwhile, although the Tuckers have sold the Wellhouse Lane site, water is still being collected from there by tanker and bottled at the existing plant in Wirrall Park. The main customers are office water coolers in a 50-mile radius of Glastonbury, and bottled water is on sale in independent public houses, healthfood stores and post-office shops.

Glastonbury Spring Water Ltd is a family business: Ian’s son Dave is in charge of production, Carol and Rachael run the office, and Ian is the project man.

White Spring has new owner

The new owner of the White Spring in Wellhouse Lane is Peter Bennett of Oxfordshire. He is a frequent visitor to Glastonbury and a companion of Chalice Well. He is still deciding what to do with the site and is open to suggestions about the café in the Victorian reservoir. The cottage above is in separate ownership.

Andy Portman of Butleigh is acting chairman of a group in the process of forming a White Spring trust and talking to Mr Bennett. The aim is “to try and secure it in some way for the community and pilgrims to Glastonbury”.

The White Spring “is outside the mandate of our constitution”, said Nicholas Mann, of the Chalice Well Trust, “but we are sympathetic”. The two springs — the red and the white — have different origins but both emerge within a few feet of one another in that cleft between Chalice Hill and the Tor.