The Woodingdean well is located just outside the Nuffield Hospital on Warren Road, Woodingdean, Brighton BN2 6DX. It stands around 2 ft now with a flint and brick wall around it as well as a white safety ‘cap’ to prevent people or things falling down it.
The well was originally dug to provide water for a workhouse at the top of Elm Grove and a ‘school for juveniles at Warren Farm’. The well is 390m (1285m) deep and is little more than a meter wide. In true Dickensian style the well was hand dug by members of the local workhouse and was apparently carried out for 24 hours with candlelight as the only source of light. It took four years to dig the well. Work commenced in March 1858
The following is an extract from ‘Woodingdean 2,000 reflections and the millennium’ by Peter Mercer
1858… Well digger Samuel North Commenced sinking the well in March..
1859 Work stopped on the well at a depth of 417’3” (sea level). Work transferred to the Guardians Surveyor and Mr Huggett his Supervisor continued the sinking to a depth of 1285ft. One worker was killed, his wife received £6.8.0 compensation. One hundred and twenty men from the Old Workhouse in Dyke Road engaged in sinking the well were presented with silver medals. Mr Huggett received a gold Medal’ …
1862 Water found on Sunday 16th March at a depth of 1285ft. Men escaped near certain death as water rose 400 feet in first hour….all the churches in Brighton rang their bells to celebrate the occasion…
The now relatively unimpressive exterior hides what is still the worlds deepest hand dug well. The well is as deep as the empire state building is tall.
The link below shows the front of the Nuffield Hospital – the well can be seen immediately in front of the middle ground floor window .. Google maps_woodingdean_well
This feature on My Brighton and Hove gives details of the history of the Woodingdean well www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk
There is a slightly silly video that was put together for the 2016 Woodigndean Pantomime ALadIn Woodingdean – that shows the journey from the Scout hut to the well you can see that here www.youtube.com/Journey_to-the_well
The hospital stands on grounds previously occupied by The Fitzherbert Roman Catholic school. For more information about the Fitzherbert school see http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk
The Woodingdean Well, (Outside the) Nuffield Hospital, Warren Road, Woodingdean, Brighton BN2 6DX
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