Hyde Vale conduit head, 22m south-east of Conduit House.
Reasons for Designation
The provision of clean water has been seen as a public responsibility since early times. The earliest water-supply systems in Britain were built during the Roman period. Aqueducts supplied civil and military centres from wells, springs and impounded sources. Medieval water systems were constructed for monasteries as early as the twelfth century, and similar conduit systems were built for some medieval towns. Early supplies depended on gravitational flow from a spring to a conduit head. Conduits were pipes or channels used to convey and transport the water. Where a head of water was brought up to the surface it was accessed through a conduit head. Some conduits, such as that at Exeter in the 14th and 15th centuries, were laid underground, whilst others, such as Wells, ran in the street. The conduit system at Greenwich Park, London originated in the medieval period but was restored and extended in the late 17th and early 18th century, forming the water supply to the Royal Naval Hospital.
Despite some later repair work and restoration, Hyde Vale conduit head survives well. It formed a significant part of the water supply system to the Royal Naval Hospital, Greenwich, other parts of which are known to survive. It will provide information about 18th century developments in water supply and engineering. Its association with the Royal Naval Hospital, a site of major historical interest, enhances its importance.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 3 September 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes an early 18th century conduit head, part of Hyde Vale conduit, originally the water supply system to Greenwich Royal Hospital. It is situated at the corner of West Grove and Hyde Vale in Greenwich Park.
The building is of one storey and hemispherical in plan, about 2.4m long and 4.2m high. It is built of red brick; the walls are in Flemish Bond and the roof is barrel vaulted with a semi-dome south end. Below the roof is a brick frieze and cornice. In the north wall is a gauged brick arched recess with a round stone plaque marked ‘No.2’. On the east wall is an inscribed stone tablet, which reads: ‘THIS CONDUIT HEAD, part of the water supply to the ROYAL HOSPITAL (for seamen) at GREENWICH was built about 1710’.
The Hyde Vale conduit is an underground brick-built tunnel designed to collect and channel water from the high ground on Blackheath to the Standard Reservoir in Greenwich Park. Originally, it ran south-westwards to the conduit head at the top of Hyde Vale but subsequent blocking has reduced its length to just under 250m. Following the conversion of Greenwich Palace to a naval hospital at the end of the 17th century, the series of underground conduits in the park were rebuilt. The conduits originated in the medieval period as the supply to the great house and palace, drawing on natural springs along the Greenwich escarpment. In about 1695, the conduit system was restored and extended to supply the hospital. It included reservoirs and conduit heads for the collection of water, and collection chambers for the removal of sediment. At least three conduits have been identified beneath Greenwich Park, two of which survive. The Hyde Vale conduit is thought to date from about 1695, when an existing conduit system was refurbished to supply the Royal Hospital. In the 19th century the conduits were superseded by reservoirs, iron pipes and drains, including a reservoir built in 1846 on the western side of the park.
The upstanding remains of Hyde Vale conduit head are Grade II listed and the monument is within the bounds of Maritime Greenwich, a World Heritage site.