It's likely that 2012 will be remembered as the year of the water. In the spring we worried about the impending drought until the rains started in April, the flash flood in June and yet more rain for the rest of the year with another flash flood in December. To depress us even more they closed the road through the village to supply even more water but this time it is piped.
What is the background to the village water supply?
The village is situated between two streams on a dry gravelly remnant of the last Ice Age. At the beginning of the 18th century the houses were mud built and all had a garden, pigsty and a privy but no water. It was an era of water carriers fetching drinking water from various springs and wells for drinking and from the streams for general washing – except on Sundays. The few small springs and shallow wells proved inadequate for general purposes of watering the horses at the smithy and the drovers stock that gathered in the village. To overcome the problem, a half mile ditch was dug to carry water from the Stewi near Y Ddol Fach down behind the houses to the road way near the play area and thence down to the square where a trough was built for the animals with the overflow directed into the Silo. It was likely that the nearest stream, the Silo would have been too soiled for use as the result of the extensive lead mining higher up the valley. This ditch is not obvious on the OS 1904 map and it's probable that there was much less demand for it as the mining activity was running down after the 1880s and rail transport was available. Furthermore the main road from the mines to Aberystwyth did not follow the present road but turned up along the hillside past Llechwedd Hen out to Cefn Llwyd. This was not the end of the world as there were two public houses on the square, The Farmers' Arms (today's PO) and the Three Horse Shoes on the opposite side of the road. However these were closed about the 1930s because of “excessive drunkenness”.
The next chapter in the water supply saga was the decision by the local council in 1930 to provide pipes and taps for the villagers to install a piped supply as long as the villagers did all the work. One scheme was to pipe water from a spring below Cwmbwa with a tap near the bridge and another by the Hall for the benefit of the upper villagers. The other was a pipe from a spring adjacent to the stream below Ty-n-cwm with taps behind the old school, one on the square and others down the road at Dawelfan and Panteg. At Gloucester Cottages there was a tap near the present bus stop from a source in the woods. This proved to be an unreliable supply and in dry summers the villagers had to resort to hiking up to Broncastellan again. The method adopted was to pipe water from a spring into a slate-built cistern (see photo) which served to store water and then into the service pipe. I recall many times, when the flow slowed in spring that we had to go to the source to clean out the frog spawn which was blocking the pipe. So it was until a filter house was built in 1939 in Bontcoch to treat water from the Craig-y-pistyll reservoir and the mains water served the village with taps behind the old school, on the square by the war memorial up the road to Penrhyn-canol and taps to both rows of houses in Garth. One still had to carry water but this time they saved on shoe leather.
The major change came in 1948 when the council houses were built- yes, water piped into the houses and what's more the sewerage went down a drain to a treatment plant by Garnwen. The other householders followed suit with water to the house and a septic tank in the garden. As an old stager commented after a pre-war visit to London; “they're very odd people you know, they do their business in the house and eat out doors” The mains sewerage arrived in the mid 70s and all followed the fashion. The privy was no more. The Bontgoch filter house was re-sited and another larger mains supply was laid through the village in the mid 50s to supply others to the south and supplement the village supply. It is a branch of this supply that is now replacing the earlier mains through the village to the annoyance of many.