Company History

Portsmouth Water has been an independent water company proudly supplying water to Portsmouth for over 150 years.

The Company today serves large towns and cities such as Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham, Havant, Chichester and Bognor Regis, as well as rural areas of South East Hampshire and West Sussex. Its origins date back to 1857 when the Borough of Portsmouth Waterworks Company was formed to supply water to Portsmouth, then a city with a population of little more than 70,000. At that time supplies were intermittent and not all households were connected to the mains supply.

The development of water supplies to Portsmouth and the surrounding area over the next 100 years is set out in a separate section below.

As the Company prospered after the Second World War, so it embarked on a period of expansion. The year 1955 saw a doubling of the statutory supply area through an amalgamation with Gosport Waterworks Company followed shortly afterwards by the acquisition of the Fareham UDC Water Undertaking. The further acquisition of four undertakings in West Sussex was completed in 1963, again doubling the Company’s supply area and at that time making it one of the largest water supply companies in the country. The origins of each of the predecessor organisations is set out in our ‘family tree’, click here to view.

The privatisation of much of the water industry in 1989 prompted a period of major investment and since then, the Company has implemented a continuous programme of refurbishment and replacement of its treatment works, pumping stations and water mains.

Throughout the long history of Portsmouth Water, the commitment of the Company and its staff has always remained unchanged.

“We aim to supply drinking water of the highest quality, combining high levels of customer service with excellent value for money.”

The following pages highlight some of the key developments in the history of the Company which have been reproduced from the Company’s official history book – “Portsmouth Water 1857 to 2007 – 150 Years of Service”. The book was published in 2007 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Company’s incorporation and copies are available priced at £15 each.

Details of how to purchase a copy

Water BookPortsmouth Water 1857 – 2007  (150 Years of Service)

Following heaving rainfall Portsmouth’s water supplies were described as looking like ‘weak coffee’ in the 1880s. Over the last 120 years there have been many improvements to supplies so that today our customers enjoy crystal clear water.

The story of how supplies have developed in and around the Portsmouth area over the last 150 years is covered in a new book published on Friday, 6th July. It explains how the Company overcame the ‘weak coffee’ descriptions and many other developments as well as the mergers and amalgamations that occurred through to the present day.

There are many key milestones:

The careful precautions needed to safeguard supplies during the Second World War
The major amalgamations and the need to develop new resources to meet rapid
Key events such as the Great Freeze of 1963, the Drought in 1976, the National Water Industry Strike of 1983 and the Great Storm of 1987
The impact of privatisation and the introduction of regulation during the 1990s
The book has been written by two staff and it relies upon not only the historical records but relates many of the tales from the staff and pensioners who have contributed to the Company’s continuing success as one of the most efficient water companies in England and Wales.

The book is priced at £15 and is available from local bookshops and by contacting the Company by telephone on 023 9249 9888