VILLAGERS are joining forces in a bid to save the future of their historic water company.
The Fenny Compton Water Company Ltd – the smallest of its kind in England – was set up by a local landowner in 1886 to help prevent villagers contracting waterborne diseases such as cholera and once supplied the entire village from a pure spring in the Avon Dassett hills.
The company still supplies 36 village homes and three businesses, but last month it looked as though it would have to close.
After years of rising repair costs, customers are now facing a £200,000 bill to replace decaying pipes.
This led directors to put the firm’s future to a vote, asking residents whether they wanted to keep the company going or transfer to Severn Trent Water at a cost of £1,500 per household.
And at a meeting last Tuesday, villagers voted in favour of keeping the company going.
A committee of five residents has now been set up to try to raise the cash needed to complete repairs.
Villagers will meet again in January to see how things are progressing.
Jill Rankin, company secretary, said: “The group is going to try to get funds for the replacement of our main pipes.
“The company is what people in the village want.
“If we can get £200,000, which is a massive ‘if’, that would guarantee the future of the company for another 90 to 100 years.”
Nigel Leck, landlord of the Merrie Lion pub in Fenny Compton, is one of the people who has taken on the responsibility of helping the firm. Mr Leck will be joined by Michael Zuliani, Dr Richard Taylor, Kay Taylor and Brian Peers.
Mr Leck said: “I feel we as a village have a huge responsibility to keep it going. The Fenny Compton Water Company must be protected and we will do everything we can.
“We have got three months to show residents that we have got sufficient funding to keep the company going, so will be approaching different organisations such as English Heritage and Christ Church College in Oxford, who were the original builders of some of the pipes.
“We will then hold another meeting with residents and users to show them our plans.”
Mrs Rankin said: “I am absolutely delighted with the residents in the village.
“It is about protecting our heritage and it just makes you feel proud to be involved.
“Something like this definitely shows the village’s community spirit.
“About 50 residents turned up at the meeting and we won’t be stopping now.”