Water flowing again at Yawl springs
PUBLISHED: 08:01 11 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:33 14 May 2019
Woodland water dispenser will cut out plastic waste
Seventy-five years after American GIs dug a bore hole to extract natural spring water running deep beneath a bluebell wood in East Devon, it is flowing again - in support of the Plastic-Free Lyme Regis campaign.
Richard Stevens' Yawl Spring Water aims to save people disposing of thousands of plastic bottles by offering a new eco gadget - the 'endlessly-recyclable' woodland water dispenser.
He was inspired to invent his new rechargeable dispenser after watching David Attenborough's TV programmes.
He said: "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.
"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?"
It costs £5 for 11.5 litres of pure Yawl water - produced near Uplyme, and the dispenser is free with the first order. When the bottle is empty, Richard will deliver another one.
The Yawl water comes from an underground artesian well and is naturally-filtered through greensand, which purifies and enriches it with minerals.
The water, which 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.
He said: "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."
The Yawl water industry dates back even further 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 away 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.