Flashback: The fascinating story of the Hackwood House

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In May this year, a structure near Redbridge Lane was photographed, prompting questions about what appeared to be a pump. Buried in deep undergrowth, it was filmed by Bob Moore, revealing clear evidence of a water wheel and ironwork. Bob added the link to Facebook, where the Basingstoke Heritage Society wanted to know more about.

The building is included in ‘Mills and Millers of North Hampshire’ where it is explained that the pump was installed to supply water to Hackwood House from the many springs here.

Hackwood House has a long history as Hag-Wode was fenced off for hunting in the 13th century by a member of the Brayboeuf family, lords of the manor of Eastrop. There was probably a hunting lodge, which was later enlarged. By the 16th century Hackwood was in the hands of the Paulet family (Basing House) and through many twists and turns to the Dukes of Bolton. The current house was started in 1683.

We searched the Hampshire Record Office online, and quickly found interesting and relevant pieces of correspondence. We also featured it in our members’ newsletter and it brought out a real treasure – slides taken by an Old Basing resident in 1972 for a publication called Hampshire Treasures.

The Hampshire Record Office sent us copies of relevant documents, including correspondence between a certain Thomas Simpson of Chelsea Water Works and Lord Bolton’s representative in Hackwood. Simpson was a pioneer of iron piping – these letters dated from 1799 and 1821.

In the early 1800s, William, 2nd Baron Bolton wanted improvements at Hackwood and it all required more water! He hired Lewis Wyatt as an architect, who worked on the house for a few years, even taking the time to design a new town hall for Basingstoke, now the Willis Museum. Lewis Wyatt was a member of a long family of architects. He also designed the Bolton Arch, now the entrance to Crabtree and modeled after a building from ancient Greece!

In 1821 Lewis Wyatt wrote to the Duke’s representative, urging that the best quality work be offered. He wrote: “The attached estimate was made by Mr. Simpson from his plan, being what he should recommend and although it could be done for less money by lighter work – I agree with him that it would be a bad economy to have this done other than in the best way. At today’s prices around £ 26,000 on piping etc has been spent .

None of the photos taken in 2021 provided the necessary evidence, but the 1972 slides, when scanned and enlarged, showed the name “Simpson & Son, Engineers, London” on some of the ironwork. A trail, known as “The Pipes,” followed the stream from the pump to Hackwood.

The early use of ironwork makes the pumping station potentially a listable structure. It is heavily overgrown and should be left alone at this time pending listing inquiries by the B&D Conservation Officer. Either way, the Pump House sits on private land, still owned by the descendants of Viscount Camrose who owned Hackwood.

Debbie Reavell

Basingstoke Heritage Society


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