Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet



The Main Sewer comes to Bures.

On May 3rd 1950 a Public Enquiry was held in Sudbury with Halstead RDC and Melford RDC to discuss providing mains
sewage to various villages in the area

These notes have been taken from the transcript of that meeting, with no correction to speaking errors:-


Work of Night Soil Collections in the Parishes of Long Melford and Bures St. Mary has long been carried out and the Scheme has, since the end of the War, been extended to embrace the Parishes of Glemsford and Great Cornard. The Council engage a Contractor to undertake the work in Bures St. Mary at a cost of approximately £250 per annum..

Medical Officer of Health, Melford RDC

The sanitary system of Bures in the main consists of pail closets, a few cesspools and open drains, none of which from a health point of view are in any way acceptable. Here, the greatest cause for alarm is the effluent from the Cuckoo Hill Slaughterhouse. A covered drain from the actual slaughterhouse leads to what was originally designed to a baffle and trap. This is no longer effective, the result being that a stinking mixture of hair, entrails, bowel content, blood, etc, pour directly into the River Stour, This too at the point whore the road bridge crosses the river. This influx, which contains also the overflow of several cesspools, is quite noticeable at the point mentioned by reason of the discolouration of the river.
The work of the "Night soil" man was particularly hazardous from a medical point of view. The personnel would have to handle the soil, which would in the event of an outbreak of an intestinal disease run a considerable risk of contracting something much more serious. In hot weather it results in fly-breeding and the resultant foul smell.

Medical Officer of Health. Halstead RDC.
Bures Hamlet

The majority of the houses in the Parish of Bures Hamlet are situated close to the River Stour opposite the village of Bures St.Mary,
In the area to be served by the proposed works there are 93 properties, of which 63 drain to the river. Of these 79 are dwelling-houses of which 50 drain to the river.
There are 68 bucket closets and 1 privy in the area.
The area has a piped water supply, 55 premises being connected, and 32 obtain their supplies from standpipes.
The Maltings are the only industrial premises of note in the area. They take 350,000 gallons of water per annum, of which the greater part drains ultimately to the river.
During the past 26 years there has been no noteworthy outbreak of infectious disease in the Parish.
The above details, in my opinion, clearly prove the need of the installation of a sewage disposal scheme in the interest of health and especially for the prevention of river pollution.

On the proposed lines of sewers are 166 houses, with 30 water closets, 134 pail closets and 2 privies, 27 houses are drained to cesspools and 31 have baths. The pail closets are emptied under Contract once par week,
There is room for a further 32 houses on the Council's existing Housing Sites;
A main drain runs from Cuckoo Hill down the length of the High Street to discharge under water in the centre of the River Stour by the road bridge. The drainage from a Government Slaughterhouse enters this drain at its upper end, in times of low water and sluggish flow a most offensive odour comes from the river at this point, giving rise to complaints from the Parish Council, the London Angler's Association and the general public. Last year the condition of the river at the Bridge was exceptionally bad, the bodies of hundreds of large fish floating on the surface at one period,
A second drain runs from the Church along the Nayland Road to discharge into the river below Messrs C.H.Hitchcock's Mill. This drain takes many thousands of gallons of hot dye-water from the Stour Valley Dye Works
The Council is contemplating having to instal a small disposal plant to serve the new estate on the Nayland Road, otherwise further development there will not be possible. The existing Post-War houses are served by cesspools

The piped sewer is approx 160 yards long and runs from a settlement tank in the allotment gardens near to Station Rd and runs past the Eight Bells Inn, across the Colchester Rd through the disused Gas Works yard and discharges via a 9" pipe directly into the river.
This pipe is approx 150 yds due south of the road crossing bridge.

The open sewer ditch is approximately 100 yards long and 2 feet wide, and it runs at the rear of Bridge Street properties and discharges into the River Stour at a point at the rear of Bridge Maltings 52 yards North (upstream) of the highway bridge over the River.

The sewer brook is approximately 470 yards long and 5 ft. 6 ins, wide in the Bures Hamlet Village Area to be served by the proposed Scheme. It flows from the West of the village in a North Easterly direction from Brickfield Cottages near the Station Maltings through a 3 ft. 3 ins. brick culvert under the railway embankment, and reappears in Brook Street, continuing down Brook Street, through the gardens of the dwelling known as The Garth, and discharges into the River Stour at a point 130 yards North (upstream) of the highway bridge over the River. Approximately 150 yards of the brook are culverted and 320 yards are open.
A 9 inches diameter piped sewer receiving drainage from Brook Street properties runs alongside the brook to a point East of the dwelling known as The Garth and North of Secretaries Farm, where it discharges into the brook

Bures St Mary
There are 227 houses in the Parish of which 224 are served by pail closets. The Council propose to construct a further 44 houses in the near future,
Bures Hamlet.
There are 135 houses in the Parish of which about 115 are situated in the village, Approximately 100 of the houses in the village are served by pail closets, 10 are provided with water closets and cesspools and 5 discharge to drains. The Halstead Rural District Council propose to erect 12 houses on a site to the south of the village and 4 houses on a site to the west of the village,
Trade Wastes.
There is a Dye Works in Bures St.Mary which draws its water supply from a borehole on the premises, No provision has been made in the scheme for the reception of the trade wastes from these premises.
There is a Government controlled slaughter-house in Cuckoo Hill, Bures St.Mary. The average consumption of water at these premises has been given by the Council's Water Engineer as 1,500 gallons per day. The wastes, consisting mainly of floor washings which appear to be particularly foul in character, are discharged to a very small settling pit and thence through a drain which outfalls into the River Stour at a point just above Bures Bridge. This drain is also reputed to receive the overflows from cesspools serving nine properties and causes serious pollution and discolouration of the River Stour,

In October, 1946, it was observed that a "bar", which appeared to consist of stomach contents and the like, had been formed on the river bed and extended almost to the opposite bank of the river
There are two Maltings in Bures Hamlet, one near Bures Station and one near Bures Bridge which are not at present in use. It is understood, however, that they will be used again in the near future and the flow from emptying the barley steeping cisterns is likely to be about 3,000 gallons per day, A typical analysis of similar wastes from the Maltings at Long Melford shows them to be about three times as strong as domestic sewage.

1921 Census.
1931 Census.
Present Estimated.
Allowed for in Scheme.
Bures St.Mary
Bures Hamlet,

The population appears to be decreasing but with the of additional houses there may be a small increase in the future. It is estimated, however, that only about 900 to 1,000 of the present estimated population of the Parishes are housed in locations which be served by the proposed sewers. The scheme has been designed to servo an ultimate population of 1,070 persons,

A suggested preliminary allocation of cost based upon the populations to be served is appended hereto.

The two villages are situated on opposite banks of the River Stour which divides them. The ground slopes generally towards the River and less steeply in a generally south-easterly direction,
The sewage from the village of Bures Hamlet will gravitate towards the Ejector Station situated near Bures Bridge, and will be delivered gravity sewer on the Bures St.Mary side of the Bridge.

All the sewage will gravitate to a pumping station to the southeast of Bures St.Mary from which it will be delivered to the sewage disposal works,
The sewers and pumping plant will be capable of dealing with up to six times the dry weather flow taken at 25 gallons per head per day together with an allowance for the trade wastes referred to above except those from the dye-works.
The the purpose of designing the percolating filters at the disposal works the daily flow of trade wastes from the slaughter-house and the Maltings has been multiplied by three in order to arrive at an equivalent flow of domestic sewage.

The site of the proposed sewage disposal works is lies wholly above flood level. Access to the site from the main road at the foot of Clicket Hill is available by an existing private road over which an casement will be required. The disposal works will consist of a screening chamber, an upward flow sedimentation tank, two biological filters fed by dosing syphons, two humus tanks, and sludge drying beds,
The effluent will be discharged directly into the River Stour.

The estimated capital cost of the proposed sewerage and sewage disposal works is £30,457.
inc Compulsory purchase of land £275

Note:- One has to remember the method of "disposing" waste in the river was not unique to Bures. The report shows it was common practice at Glemsford, Stanstead, Hartest, Long Melford, Gt Cornard, Nayland, Stoke by Nayland etc etc

It seems impossible to imagine the state of the rive, by the time it reach the tidal reaches of Cattawade

Note:- Sewerage - Melford Rural District Council took over this duty with a more sanitised motorised tanker.
Mains sewerage, came to the village approx 1955, the time of the Suez Crisis. Work installing the pipework was hindered somewhat, by the shortage of petrol.
One incident recalled was a supply of 40gall barrels of petrol arriving as an emergency supply for the machinery, diggers etc. These were stored overnight in the Sewerage Station in Nayland Rd, which was under construction.
However, on opening up next morning, the barrels had mysteriously vanished!!

Halstead RDC and Melford RDC Public Enquiry Report dated 3/5/1950
Loaned courtesy of Pat Creek
Written by Alan Beales 01/03/09