yeovil at war

WW2 emergency water tank sites

Somerset Fire Service and the Auxiliary Fire Service

 

 By the beginning of the war ‘portable dams’, which held 1,000 gallons of water and were placed on open ground, were ready to be moved into threatened areas. These were supplemented later by larger steel structures that held up to 22,500 gallons, or more often 11,500 gallons, sited in strategic locations and kept full with water which was changed every month or so to avoid it becoming stagnant. In the event, both of these types of structure were of limited use as they were not large enough to provide water for more than a few minutes, being intended only as an immediate supply.

Ten emergency water tank sites are known for Yeovil; one large 22,500 gallon circular steel dam type tank in Bide's Gardens and the rest smaller 11,500 gallon versions. Most static water tanks were removed immediately after the war as they were a health hazard, dangerous to children and misused as rubbish dumps.

 

Yeovilians remember...

"It was soon realised that if local bombings occurred the water mains maybe destroyed. So a large pumping station was located at the River Yeo and large iron pipes were laid in the gutters to send water to concrete containers about 20 feet in diameter and 4 feet high. These were situated at various locations around the town.

The local fire department had vans with trailers upon which were mounted pumping units. These units would pump the water from the big concrete cisterns and take it to where it was needed. The water got very stagnant and netting had to be installed to stop rubbish being thrown into the containers.

The local citizens knew where the water pipes were in the dark and knew when to step over them. However, occasionally there was a metal clang from a British army boot followed by a good British curse in some strange dialect. Later when the US forces were here, it would be a thud followed by a strange curse emanating from the hinterland of the USA."

Memories of the late Walter McGowan
Courtesy of the Old Yeovilians Association

 

The following aerial photographs are from the Somerset County Council's Historic Environment Record and were all taking in late 1945 or early 1946.

 

At centre is a circular emergency water supply tank about 12m in diameter on what used to be the southwest corner of Byde's Gardens. It is a 22,500 gallon 'circular steel dam', 4ft deep and 17ft 1in radius built on a concrete base. This larger tank is indicative of the importance of the adjacent area and the quantity of water likely to be needed for fire fighting during an air raid.

At centre of this photograph is an 11,500 gallon circular emergency water tank, 7m in diameter, and located at the junction of Preston Grove (running diagonally from top left to bottom right) and Westborne Grove. The location of the feature in a housing area and close to the boundary of Westland Airfield.

 

At centre is a circular Second World War emergency water tank, on the south side of West Coker Road (running across the photograph) at the right of the junction with Beaconfield Road. It was a 7m, 11,500 gallon version.

 

 

At centre of this photograph is an 11,500 gallon circular emergency water tank, 7m in diameter. It is off Sandhurst Road (running vertically across the centre of the photograph) and the hedgerow running across the photograph to the left is the site of today's Arnewood Gardens.

 

 

At centre of this aerial photograph is an 11,500 gallon circular emergency water tank, 7m in diameter. It is located on the east side of The Park, in the northwest corner of Sidney Gardens.

The white circular feature towards bottom right is the fountain.

 

This is another 11,500 gallon circular emergency water tank, 7m in diameter, to the west of Hillcrest Road (running from top centre to bottom right).

At bottom right is Grass Royal and at top left is Fielding Road.

 

At centre of this photograph is an 11,500 gallon circular emergency water tank, 7m in diameter. It was located in the allotment gardens to the immediate north of the Royal Marine.

The diagonal split in the photo is the join of two photos. At lower left is Great Western Terrace and to the right is Cromwell Road.

At centre of this aerial photograph is an 11,500 gallon circular emergency water tank, 7m in diameter. It is located at the bend in the eastern half of Rosebery Avenue.

 

 

 

This is another 11,500 gallon circular emergency water tank, 7m in diameter. It was situated on the east side of Goldcroft which running from top left to bottom right.

Running to bottom left is Sparrow Road and the track leading to top right would later become Milford Road.

 

At left of centre of this photograph is an 11,500 gallon circular emergency water tank, 7m in diameter, and located in a Borough Council yard behind 13-17 Vicarage Street.

Running left to right across the lower half of the photograph and dropping down to the bottom right corner is Vicarage Street and the road running vertically from it in the right of the photo is Vincent Street.

At the centre of this photograph is an 11,500 gallon circular emergency water tank, 7m in diameter, on the bend in Mudford Road close to Hundredstone Corner. Just below and to the right is the Auxilliary Fire Service's Fire Station.