Swithland Spring Water
“My cellar used to flood all the time,” says Brian Beeby, the ex-farmer who set up Leicestershire’s Swithland Spring Water at Hall Farm, Swithland, Leicestershire, in 1998. “It was a complete pain but indirectly it led to the formation of the business.” Brian came to Hall Farm in 1975 an arable, pig and sheep farmer with no idea he’d end up selling spring water. It was after 23 years of traditional farming that, in 1998, he decided to dive into the H2O market.
“We knew there was a spring down there and saw the success that Buxton were enjoying.” Brian speculated that he might, just might, be able to reach the spring water, extract it, bottle it and sell it. It was a tough call. The investment needed to drill down to reach the water, pump it up, test it, and jump through the various environmental hoops, was high. And there was no guarantee it wouldn’t be money down the drain.
“It took us 10 days to drill down through the rock and the first sample we took from 20 metres below ground proved promising. We then dug down to 80 metres and took another sample, which turned out to be perfect.”
Swithland Spring Water exists due to a natural geological feature called an artesian aquifer – a layer of porous rock that stores water (the light brown section in the diagram below).
By drilling down and tapping into this, the team can reach spring water. And lots of it. The water gets there by seeking out cracks and fissures, being purified as it percolates through the strata. Eventually, it reaches a bed of slate (used to build many Charnwood houses), and here it is stopped in its tracks, for the rock is impossible to penetrate. At this point Swithland’s borehole and pump get in on the act, tapping into a well in the saturated strata to pump up spring water.
After rainfall hits the ground, it takes up to 50 years to reach the well that Swithland Spring Water taps, all the time being filtered. Back above ground, the naturally purified water, which may well have fallen on Leicestershire soil during a heavy rain shower in the 1970s, goes straight into recyclable cans and glass bottles.
The decision to drill paid off, enabling us all to enjoy some of the purest spring water possible.
The above diagram is a cross-section of part of Charnwood, north Leicestershire, home to some of Europe’s oldest volcanic rocks. Rain and meltwater can’t easily get through the blue (Bradgate Park) and purple areas, so runs off to find somewhere more welcoming. The brown area on which Swithland sits is that welcoming place, known as an artesian aquifer. Here the land is porous so becomes a store of spring water. Swithland Spring Water comes from that store.
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