SEVENTY-five years after American GIs dug a bore hole to extract natural spring water running deep beneath a bluebell wood in Uplyme, it is flowing once again in support of the Plastic Free Lyme Regis campaign.
Richard Stevens’ Yawl Spring Water is aiming to save Lyme from disposing of tens of thousands of plastic bottles a year by offering homes and businesses a new eco-gadget – the endlessly-recyclable woodland water dispenser.
Mr Stevens, who was inspired to invent his new rechargeable dispenser after watching David Attenborough’s TV series Blue Planet, commented: “Doctors recommend that adults drink at least two litres of water a day to help stay healthy. But what is good for your health isn’t good for Lyme’s environment.
“A two-litre plastic bottle of Evian may only cost £1 in local supermarkets, but what is the cost of getting rid of all that plastic?
“I was horrified to learn how much plastic there is in the sea and I knew I had to do my bit. So I threw out the plan of selling the woodland spring water in plastic bottles and came up with the idea for the dispenser.
“It costs £5 for 11 and a half litres of pure Yawl water, and the dispenser is free with your first order. When the bottle is empty, I’ll deliver another one.
“Besides being a saving on the price of some other foreign brands, which are bottled in a factory several hundred miles away, a household can save on throwing away more than 360 plastic bottles a year. If a hundred homes took the dispenser, Lyme would save on the throwaway of more than 36,000 bottles a year.
“It’s also good for the environment because this water wasn’t bottled months ago and isn’t having to be transported from Scotland or France. The woodland water that my customers are buying was running underground the day before yesterday.”
Those customers already include Lyme Bay Holidays and Lyme Regis Brewery and the restaurants River Cottage and HIX Oyster & Fish House, which are big fans of the Yawl Spring Ice, which Mr Stevens is also selling.
“The ice is especially popular with connoisseurs of good whisky. If you’re drinking a fine pure malt you want to have good water with it,” he added.
The Yawl water comes from an underground artesian well running beneath Knoll Hill and is naturally-filtered through greensand, which purifies and enriches the water with minerals. The water, which is was first tapped by the Romans around AD 60, surfaces in a bluebell wood behind Mr Stevens’ home at Yawl House and is bottled at source.
Mr Stevens added: “US Army officers were billeted here during the Second World War as they prepared for the D-Day invasion. In order to supply themselves and Uplyme with fresh water, in 1944 they dug a bore hole in the bluebell wood.
“I’m very lucky because this is now designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and you wouldn’t get permission to sink a bore hole here these days.”
But a Yawl water industry dates back even future than the war. In 1896 Uplyme businessman Harold Bates began the Yawl Spring Mineral Water company, making lemonade, ginger beer and sodas, which he delivered to shops and homes as far as Exeter on his horse-drawn cart.
Mr Bates planned on leaving the company to his two sons, but they were killed in the First World War and the business was taken over by his son-in-law, Axminster coal merchant Horace Jewell, who continued making the mineral waters until 1938.
“I’ve found dozens of old marble-stoppered bottles when digging in the garden,” said Mr Stevens. “And there’s some wonderful examples of bottles from the early days of Yawl Spring Water in Lyme Regis Museum.”
Now Mr Stevens is in talks with Lyme Bay Holidays about a proposal to equip their hundreds of holiday homes with the Yawl spring water dispenser and there is more interest too from Lyme Regis Brewery, which is using the pure Yawl water in making their new additions to their range of award-winning beers.
The company will also be supplying water to revellers at Guitars On The Beach in Lyme Regis on Saturday, June 15, which is this year going green and has taken on the theme of “rocking against climate change”.
For more details on Yawl Spring Water, visit the website www.yawlspring-jurassiccoast.co.uk