Phillippa may have kept the house running and sparkling clean but it was Henry who did something truly amazing and well before anyone every thought of it, what he did kept the family healthy and to be healthy back then was a big thing as there were so many diseases around that could kill a person.
Water was a big problem, the Moonta Mine company had a big ‘still’ which treated water from the mine, which was salty. Trouble was that the result of this treatment to the water created water which was almost unpalatable, they sold it from 2 pence to 6 pence a bucket.
There were springs South of Moonta which were brackish and of little use, so this ruled them out. The primary way that people in Moonta got water was from the rains, rainwater, believe it or not, was Moonta’s most treasured possession. When it rained everyone raced out with anything in which they could collect water, which was then saved.
This way of collecting water was also very dangerous and a deadly activity. The unusual method was by surface drain into an underground tank, which was usually walled about 3 feet above ground for safety for the children but the tank was left open at the top. A hole at the ground level let the water from rain run off, into the tank. The sediment in the run off settled to the bottom leaving clear drinkable water on top.
Unfortunately the bacteria did not settle out, and this was the source of many of the deadly diseases of which typhoid was the most prevalent, followed by all of the other diseases including cholera, which took their toll on both adults and children.
What Henry did was he roofed his tank with corrugated iron, by doing this it kept rubbish out and provided a clean extra catchment for run off into the tank. No surface water got into his tank as it came from the corrugated iron roof gutters, and down pipes fed the tank. He soon then installed the normal round corrugated iron tank on a stand at the back of his house.
By doing what he did with the tanks, it gave immeasurable benefit to the family in the future, epidemics did still cost him and Phillippa some of their children but the family no had a source of water with which, if they were careful, they could get through each summer in comfort. The other benefit was that in hot weather, the water was always cool.