160-year-old petition is resurrected as residents call on council to protect some of Lancashire's most ancient wells

A petition dating back to 1862 has been put before Ribble Valley Council by Clitheroe residents asking for the adoption of two Medieval town wells.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 3:45 pm
Heild Well, Clitheroe
Heild Well, Clitheroe

The Council has previously claimed ownership of one Grade II-isted monuments - the Stocks well located on the Castle Field - and the petition calls for the adoption of St Mary's Well and Heild Well as well. The council has previously decided not to adopt.

>>>Click here to read more about Heild Well's history.

The original petition has been taken online, and now more than 1,800 have signed up to support the call.

St Mary's Well.

Speaking at a council meeting last week, Roland Hailwood, the Clitheroe Town Crier, told councillor: "We are here to secure a meaningful future for our three former public town wells which can be achieved by this Council’s ownership.

"Local support for this online petition from all over the Ribble Valley has substantially exceeded expectations with the total number standing at 1,846 which continues to grow daily."

He said petitioners had collected extensive evidence of ‘de facto’ ownership by all of Ribble Valley Borough Council's municipal forebears, and asked the authority to consider the economic, community, heritage and tourism benefits which would accrue by the ownership of all three sites.

He added: “This campaign believes there is nothing to be lost and much to be gained for our community by the adoption of our ancient medieval spring wells.

Stock's Well has already been adopted by the council

"It will enable the Council with partners to obtain grant aid to renovate and conserve these historic Grade II-listed monuments. There is no risk either financial or otherwise to the Borough Council."

Councillors animously agreed to refer the petition to the Community Committee, to reconsider new evidence gathered in support of the case.

A spokesman for the Clitheroe Town Wells Conservation Campaign said afterwards: "This is a giant step towards preserving and promoting Clitheroe's monuments and preserving our heritage.

"We expect the Community Committee to review the new information at their meeting in January 2022. We realise that there are legal issues and so we will share with the Council our research and legal advice.

"If the Council have legal opinions on this issue, in the interests of open government and transparency we urge our elected representatives to press council officials to publish this advice so that if adoption is not possible by the Borough Council, the petitioners and public can understand why.''

Ribble Valley Council said a report on the matter will be drawn up in the weeks leading up to January's committee meeting.