Those of you familiar with our gentle valley will know that there are two main lakes, linked by a smaller pond just below the Golden Gate bridge. The lowest of these, the SerpentineLake covers nine acres and winds off northwards out of sight towards Melbourne. This lake is not on the ‘Kyps’ engraving of about 1700, and must have been constructed as part of the ‘landscape’ movement in the mid eighteenth century.
It was formed by constructing a large earth dam, some five metres high, and the water cascades down over stones below a simple five arch bridge which carried a car track along the dam crest. Shortly after its construction the head of water was utilised to power a water wheel about a third of a mile away which in turn powered a pump to draw water from the lead and lime workings in the area called Dimminsdale. The brick arched culvert which carried this water can still be seen, passing beneath the roots of an avenue of giant lime trees.
The second use of this head of water was between 1898 and 1960 when a large iron pipe powered a hydraulic ‘ram’ which in turn pumped spring water to a reservoir on the nearby hilltop, from which it flowed by gravity to supply the farms and hamlets which comprised the Staunton Estate. This was still in use when our family bought into the estate in 1955, and only ceased because the water authority found an excuse to connect us to their supposedly better ‘mains’ supply.
Now a third use is planned. If the volume of water is deemed sufficient we propose to install a turbine which will pump electricity into the ‘grid’ to offset consumption in the Hall itself. It may change our whole attitude to the weather. ‘Thank goodness, it’s raining’ will be the cry, and summer picnics will be by the turbine house, watching the water falling and the dials spinning.