Waterworks Pumping Station Holywell Hill

Waterworks Pumping Station workers

Waterworks Pumping Station workers

The pumping station was opposite the Duke of Marlborough pub in Holywell Hill. The photograph was taken by Ivor Pratt somewhere in the grounds of the pumping station in the mid 1950s. Pictured on the right is Bob Christopher who lived next door to the Pratts at 67 Holywell Hill, and in the middle is Bob’s son, also called Bob. When Lindsay Pratt was a little girl  she said she referred to them as Old Uncle Bob and New Uncle Bob:  “New Uncle Bob  was married with children Lesley and Michael who I often met when they were playing in their grandparents’ garden. I do remember that sometime around 1955 they were taking out the old steam engine and installing a diesel one, and a group of engineers arrived to do the work. Accommodation had to be found for all these workers and all were found places except for one man whom no-one would take in because he had black skin and people were very colour-prejudiced at the time. Well my parents said that they would be glad to have him, and for a while he became part of the family. Even though it is some 60 years ago now I have never forgotten him. His name was Mohammed Nasser, he was a nephew of Colonel Nasser (of the Suez Canal fame) and came from Sudan. I called him Uncle Mo.”

Bob  had retired by the time Brian Welch started at Colne Valley Water Company in 1966 but he remembers him. He said that he still drank in The Duke of Marlborough and was rather miserable. Brian’s son Lee was born in 1969  and when he was leaving The Duke one day Bob followed him out. Bob said to Brian: “you’ve had a boy haven’t you?”. Brian said yes and  Bob shoved a knitted Golly in his hands and said:  “I’ve made this for him”.


  1. Lindsay

    Thank you for posting this. It might seem odd that a man would knit a Golly for a child – but Bob Christopher senior was ex-Navy and it was quite usual for sailors to knit! Bob’s wife was called May. According to my father they both liked a drink. May was always known to me as “Auntie May” because a child in the 50s would never address an adult by their first name, so adults were usually given the courtesy title of Auntie or Uncle.


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