IN LAST week’s Bridport and Lyme Regis News (2/5) we published an article about Yawl Spring Water, one man’s idea to cut down on plastic bottles and to support Lyme Regis’ plastic free campaign.

We’ve delved deeper into the history of this natural spring, which surfaces in a wood behind Yawl House, with the water first being tapped by the Romans around AD 60

However, our story starts with Harold Bate, who had drawn water from the Dorset spring since 1896 and a small factory was built to house the bottling works which grew to lemonade, cherryade, ginger beer, soda water and spring water. During this time, the drinks were delivered to customers throughout the west country by horse-drawn cart.

Historically, ‘Bate and Son’ was the labelling on the bottles as Harold wanted to leave the business to one of his two sons. However, they both died whilst serving in the first World War.

The business was later taken over by Horace Jewel, Harold’s son in law, who continued to supply the spring water commercially until 1938, just before the Second World War.

During the Second World War, the United States Army occupied Yawl House and while they were stationed there, they dug a new bore hole into the woodland near the house and plumbed the whole of Uplyme to receive spring water.

The Americans left after D-Day and after the Second World War, mains water was introduced to the village.

Richard Steven’s father, Reginald, bought the house in 1964 and it was the last house still on spring water.

Wessex Water approached Reginald as they were finding the running costs of the spring too much and they negotiated to hand the rights of the spring and its upkeep to Reginald, along with the land it is situated. Yawl House was also plumed to receive mains water at this time.

The family also started to find many of the ‘Bates and Sons’ bottles buried in the garden, with Richard looking even more into it.

He said: “Around 1987, I used to hear about these other water companies like Eggardon Spring and Branscombe Spring and I thought, ‘I’ve got something quite special here’, as all these other companies weren’t a lemonade factory 100 years ago, whereas this one was.”

Richard started up the water business in 1990, bottling the spring water and selling it, but he said that everything seemed to be going wrong for them, so he closed it down again in 1994.

Richard added: “There were loads of problems.

“I came back to live here to look after my parents in 1990 and that is when I started the water business again.

“For three years from 1990 to 1993, everything we did went wrong.

“We imported 24,000 bottles from India, but when the container arrived, out of 24,000, 15,000 of them were rejects.

“After three years of trying to get this water business going and as a last resort spending £7,000 on these bottles with 15,000 rejects, we thought, ‘this is ridiculous, everything we try goes wrong’.

“Around this time, we used to have people having car accidents nearly every weekend on one of the bends near the house.

“A friend of mine and his wife came to visit, not knowing anything about the story of the water before, and he told me that his wife sees ghosts and when she was in the water factory, she saw three ghosts - two shorter men and a tall man. I think it has got to be Harold Bate and his two sons.

“We had someone come in to bless the water and exercise the water factory, as well as plant crystals in the shape of the Star of David around the bore hole.

“I honestly believe that when he came and positively energised the water with these crystals, it did something because we haven’t had any car accidents since.”

After the business was closed down, Richard was called one day by Virgin International, asking if he could supply them with water as at the time the company was also supplying Virgin Cola and Virgin Vodka.

However, Richard explains that this would have meant three artic lorries coming to Yawl House every day and in the end, Virgin decided not to go ahead with it.

Then, around 12 or 13 years ago, Richard was approached by a representative of West Country Vending who asked if he could supply them with water, so he started filling up bottles for water coolers.

However, last year, he was made redundant from that job.

Richard said: “I thought, ‘what am I going to do now?’ and it happened at the same time as the Blue Planet programme with David Attenborough and I came up with the idea of the electric pumps.”

He was horrified at how much plastic there was in the sea and he wanted to do his bit to reduce this. This is the most recent start of Yawl Spring Water.

The electric pumps attach onto the top of the 11.5 litre water dispenser and electronically pump the water up and out through a spout.

The water dispensers are filled with Yawl water and his customers already include Lyme Bay Holidays, Lyme Regis Brewery, River Cottage and Hix.

For more information on Yawl Spring Water, visit