Author Topic: Air Well buildings  (Read 294 times)

JimG

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Air Well buildings
« on: April 25, 2019, 10:47:49 AM »


in the grounds of wealthy houses on the Cavehill road in older ordnance survey maps pre 1952 are marked some “Air Well”  This appears to be smaller than a wee house built of brick or stone that help condense water from the air, a forgotten method of obtaining drinking water if you don’t have a spring nearby
at 83 and never having heard of them before. it would be interesting to learn more and are they copying from some other country or is it ancient

examples exist in PRONI historical maps they disappear by 1952
so try https://apps2.spatialni.gov.uk/EduSocial/PRONIApplication/index.html
agree to their terms and agreements and click ok
enlarge Belfast for the Cavehill area then spot the sandwich box  icon top RH corner try 1900ish by clicking on square
examples
1. Air Well [covered] between Antrim road and Fortwilliam golf club south of Grays lane in the grounds of Farringdon House
2. Air Well between Antrim road and Graymount hospital south of grays lane in the grounds of Farringdon House nr Open Air School
3. Air Well further northwards before ben Madigan park but on the east side of the antrim road
4. Air Well further northwards on east side of antrim road close to Throne hospital
5. Air Well further northwards just under throne terrace  you are leaving belfasts bc boundary


CMcG

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Re: Air Well buildings
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2019, 05:11:22 AM »
JimG, as far as I can determine, these air wells were all part of the main public water supply infrastructure and they all followed the track of the (Belfast City & District Water Works) Woodburn Aqueduct, Woodburn outside Carrickfergus being one of the sources from which Belfast drew it's water. One of the maps I can see online (1931) shows a dotted line for the aqueduct right back to Monkstown (I presume it was mostly if not entirely closed, ie. a tunnel/conduit/pipe below surface) and there were air wells built into/onto it at intervals along the whole length of its track from Monkstown right through to Carr's Glen Reservoir and Belfast Waterworks, including the air wells you mentioned at Graymount, Throne etc.   
 
I don't know if Woodburn still supplies Belfast today, but it certainly did up to at least 1971, for I can see a news story in that year about water supplies to parts of Belfast being cut, when a 3 foot wide pipe from Woodburn Dam was damaged at Cloughfern.   

I used the '6 Inch to 1 Mile County Series Edition 5 (1919 - 1963)' map at the following website:
https://mapshop.nidirect.gov.uk/Catalogue/Digital-products/Historical-products

It seems to be part of the construction requirement, for I notice that when they were enhancing the water infrastructure in the Mournes in 1948 (primarily to connect Silent Valley and Annalong Valley), they built an aqueduct with six air wells along its length. 


JimG

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Re: Air Well buildings
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2019, 08:27:26 AM »
CMcG, that was surprise information, another possible myth gets drowned.  thanks very much.

CMcG

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Re: Air Well buildings
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2019, 10:57:44 AM »
To be honest I had never heard of the term 'air well' before you mentioned it, it gets very few mentions in the historical newspaper archive (I checked the local newspapers) so I suspect it is only really used in the rarefied world of mappers and water engineers.  The following story from 2016 confirms that Woodburn Dam still does supply bits of Belfast:

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/environment/ni-water-plays-down-fears-over-woodburn-forest-oil-drill-project-34759252.html