Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 13, 2018
Webpage updated: March 31, 2018




Prompted, it is thought, by the success of the Plymouth Leat, the inhabitants of East Stonehouse copied the Plymouth Act and submitted their own Bill to Parliament in 1593.  It was considered by a Parliamentary Committee that consisted of, amongst others, Sir Francis Drake, promoter of the Plymouth Leat, of course.  This may have led to the inclusion by the Committee of a proviso that no mills were to be constructed upon or near the Leat that might prejudice or damage the persons owning the mills upon the Plymouth Leat.  The penalty was a fine of 100, a half of which would go to the injured party, and the offending property would have to be demolished.  Drake owned the mills on the Plymouth Leat that might be "damaged" by such a proposal.

The Act received its Royal Assent on April 10th 1593 and work began the following June  to bring the water from a spring that flowed into Millbrook Lake, near Torr, some three miles distant.  It would feed its water to the Mill Pool at Millbridge.  A fine of 20 could be imposed on any landowner who obstructed the construction of the Leat.

It transpired that this supply was totally inadequate for the needs of the Town and in 1688 an agreement was made by the then Lord of the Manor, Sir Richard Edgcumbe, and Plymouth Corporation for the latter to supply water from their system.  It has been suggested that this was done by linking the two leats either near the present Torr View Avenue at Peverell, or at Houndiscombe Farm, Mutley, where they were close together.  This facility was withdrawn in 1713 when the demand for water within Plymouth itself made it impossible to supply anybody else.

The situation became dire when, in 1758, the Royal Naval Hospital was built.  As the Leat ran through its grounds, the Commissioners responsible for the Hospital wrote to the Parish Council in 1765 requesting that they be supplied with water.  An agreement was signed on July 3rd 1778 whereby the Commissioners were to improve the condition of the Leat and build suitable reservoirs.   The Parish Council would do the same.  The famous octagonal water-tower in the grounds of the Hospital seem to be all that was done and the Commissioners seem to have quietly forgotten their side of the bargain.