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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/1953
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1619-1974
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 91.75 linear metres
Name of creator(s): New River Company
New River Company (Limited)


Administrative/Biographical history:

During the late 16th century the need for a fresh water supply to the City of London became increasingly apparent. The city was served by an inadequate number of conduits, and its main source of fresh water - the River Thames - was contaminated by sewage and refuse.

After several abortive attempts at legislation, the Corporation of London finally accepted the offer of Hugh Myddelton, a goldsmith of the city, to complete a new conduit in four years. This was in 1609, and by September 1613 the work was duly completed. The conduit, known as the New River, rises from Chadwell Spring in Hertfordshire, and runs approximately 40 miles, finally ending in the Round Pond at New River Head, behind Sadlers Wells Theatre in Rosebery Avenue. As well as providing water for the citizens of London, the New River Company owned a great deal of property along the course of the river, in both Hertfordshire and London.

James I granted a charter to the New River Company in June 1619, and it was incorporated under the title of 'The Governor and Company of the New River brought from Chadwell and Amwell to London'. The seal of the company depicted the 'hand of Providence bestowing rain' upon the city and its motto was "et plui super unam civitatem" (and I rained upon one city).

Capital for the venture was provided jointly by James I and Hugh Myddelton, along with 28 other 'Adventurers'. On the incorporation of the company the two parties divided the shares between them; James I owned the King's Shares. The Adventurers' Shares were divided into 36 parts, 22 of the directors owning one part, and 7 others (including Hugh Myddelton) owning two.

The function of the company as a public utility ceased with the passing of the Metropolis Water Act in 1902. By this act the provision of London's water supply was passed from the various water companies to the newly-created Metropolitan Water Board.

As a result of this takeover, the New River Company was re-incorporated in 1904 as a modern property company. It was registered under The Companies Acts 1862-1900 as The New River Company (Limited). The Company was taken over again in 1974 by London Merchant Securities, but still exists as a separate entity within that group.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the New River Company (1619-1904), including charter and oath of Sir Hugh Myddelton, Board and Committee papers; correspondence; shares and shareholders; general accounts; estate accounts; papers relating to premises including land files, buildings and rent charges; and records relating to water supply rents.

Papers relating to the takeover by the Metropolitan Water Board, including Parliamentary Papers; papers relating to arbitration; and papers relating to the effect of the takeover on shareholders.

Records of the New River Company Limited (1904-1980), including Board and Committee papers; papers of Board personnel; correspondence; stocks and shares; ledgers; cash books; insurance files; property files; deed schedules; contracts; specifications; plans; papers relating to leases; papers relating to the Clerkenwell Estate and other estates; rents and charges; valuations; files relating to war damage; information for landowners and general files.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

ACC/1953/A - The Chartered Company 1619-1904; ACC/1953/B - Metropolitan Water Board Takeover; ACC/1953/C - The Limited Company 1904-1980.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited at the Greater London Record Office on 12 March 1984.

Framed items including the original company charter were deposited in July 2014.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Records of the Company relating to the provision of water can be found among the archives of the predecessors of Thames Water (ACC/2558/NR). Further records of the New River Company relating to property can be found at ACC/1262, ACC/2246, ACC/2643, ACC/2919 and ACC/3645.

Publication note:

For further information relating to the history of the New River Company, see "The New River: A Legal History" by Bernard Rudden, 1985 (LMA Library reference 24.215 NEW) and "Exploring the New River" by Michael Essex-Lopresti, 1986 (LMA Library reference 24.215 NEW).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
July to October 2009

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