A model of a famous Giggleswick landmark has been restored in time for its 25th anniversary.
The working model of the Ebbing and Flowing Well – first made in 1988 and on display at Settle’s Museum of North Craven Life – has been renovated by retired engineers Michael Slater and Ken Waters.
The two Langcliffe men spent several months experimenting with a variety of methods to get the model up and running again.
And its new lease of life has coincided with the reappearance of water in the actual well, which is situated alongside the busy B6480 road.
“It seems a happy coincidence that both the model and the real well have sprung to life again almost simultaneously,” said museum curator Anne Read, who, herself, witnessed the ebb and flow of the real well earlier this month.
The well has been a source of interest and curiosity for centuries, with several fanciful theories about the possible reason for the rise and fall of water in the basin.
One suggests it is linked to a nymph who was transformed into a spring to escape the advances of a lecherous satyr while another says it is connected to the ebb and flow of the tides in Morecambe Bay. A more mundane but scientifically convincing explanation, put forward in the late 18th century by James Ferguson, a fellow of the Royal Society, says it is due to the probable action of a double siphon in the limestone rock behind the well At one time, the well ebbed and flowed fairly frequently – its workings were recorded in a diary by the Rev George Brown, of Zion Independent Chapel in Settle – but in recent years the perception had been the well has stopped working altogether, But Mrs Read said: “Following the advice given by George Brown in his diary, I saw the well ebb and flow three times in about a quarter of an hour on October 2. This was after a day of heavy rain preceded by an extended period of dry weather.”
The working model was made in 1988 by the late Jim Nelson in memory of his lifelong friend Stanley (Stan) Simpson who had died the previous year at the early age of 55. Stan was a founder member of the group which established the present museum in 1977.
Jim, who died earlier this year, was the fourth generation of the old-established family business of Settle shoemakers. He was a keen local historian and friend of the museum and knew that an earlier model of the Ebbing and Flowing Well had been created in the 19th century.
He decided to have a go at making his own version, with the help of another local man, Jim Leach of the family plumbing firm of Leach & Burgess.
“The model that they produced, which includes a hand-carved inscription to Stan, worked admirably for many years, but ceased to function shortly after the museum moved to The Folly in 2001,” said Mrs Read. “Despite several attempts over the years, the model could not be made to work satisfactorily.”
That was until this year when Michael Slater and Ken Waters took up the challenge.
To celebrate its restoration, the museum arranged a visit for relatives of Stan and Jim. Among those present were Stan’s widow, Pat Simpson, his daughter, Maxine Armitage, his sister Edna Waterworth and Jim’s son, Daniel.