Slop stones

A photo of a slopstone

Last night I went to a very interesting talk by a member of Mourholme Local History Society, which my mum has been part of for many years. The talk, entitled ‘Flush and Forget in Silverdale’, was about water supplies and drainage in Silverdale in Lancashire, where my mum lives and where I grew up.

A photo of a limestone pavement

Silverdale is a village on Morecambe Bay in the far north of Lancashire. There are no rivers or streams, so until it was connected to mains water in 1938, the local people relied on rain water. This was collected in wells built in places were the water didn’t all drain away through the limestone, which is the main bedrock of the area (see photo on the right), and in tanks in the basements of buildings filled by rain from roofs.

Pumps were used to draw water from the basement tanks, and under the spouts of the pumps there were shallow sinks known as slop stones which were made of wood, slate or stoneware. Isn’t that a wonderful word – slop stone?

The village was originally a collection of tiny hamlets that grew up around the water sources and the population was small. The population increased over time, especially after the arrival of the railway in 1858, and is now about 1,600.

Silverdale apparently could have been connected to mains water earlier, but the local people objected to the cost and claimed they were happy with the existing arrangements. The presenter also mentioned other occasions when the villagers had been reluctant to spend more than absolutely necessary. I wasn’t aware that the people of Silverdale were stingy, at least in the past.

A photo of the water tanks in Eaves Wood in Silverdale
Water tanks built to collect rain water and supply houses in Silverdale.

There are many words for those averse to spend money. Most have negative conotations: stingy, tight, tightfisted, miserly, penny pinching, skinflint, while others are more positive: frugal, thrifty, economical, pennywise. Do you have any others?


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