Letter from Worcester's Mayor to the Mayor of Gouzeaucourt
asking what help could most usefully be given.
from Gouzeaucourt Records

Letters between the Mayor of Worcester and Gouzeaucourt in the months following the adoption highlighted Gouzeaucourt’s need for a water supply

The village needed everything – but above all, drinking water. The offer of a wind pump was made promptly on 6 April 1921 to be supplied by a Worcester firm - Thomas and Son of Droitwich Road. There was a need for technical details - was this for a well or a bore hole? How deep was the well? How deep was the water in the well? Could they build a reservoir/water tower to store the water? How far from the top of the well would this be?

But in September 1921 the pump was sent. It was followed in October by a petrol pump which could be used if there was no wind. 

Letter from Gouzeaucourt to the Mayor of Worcester 15 March 1921

This appears to be the copy kept by Gouzeaucourt of their letter. It is written out in both French and English,
although the French version does not carry the signing off.
The customs form for the pump arriving in France.
There were 23 crates of it weighing 4 tons.
The Climax works on Droitwich Road, Worcester, 1970.
The works up for sale after manufacturing had moved to South Africa where
they are still made under the same patent but different ownership.
Photo courtesy of Clive Stanley

The ‘Climax’ pump was built on Droitwich Road in Worcester by Ernest Thomas - ‘Pumpy’ Thomas. His ‘Climax’ pumps were sold all over the world. Once contacted to supply the pump for Gouzeaucourt, ‘Pumpy’ became fully involved in the project, visiting Gouzeaucourt in February 1922.

After receiving the wind pump, Gouzeaucourt had to ask for help in assembling it. On his return to Worcester Mr Thomas offered to send 2 mechanics to help in the installation in Gouzeaucourt and in Montauban who also had a ‘Climax’ pump sent by its godparent, Maidstone.

However, proposed visits from his mechanics later in 1922 and 1923 appear to have been inconvenient for Gouzeaucourt. Montauban received 2 engineers early in 1922 and had their wind pump installed, yet the necessary visit was not made to Gouzeaucourt until June 1924.

A Climax pump similar to the one sent to Gouzeaucourt.
This one is installed at the 3 Counties Showground
near Malvern and is a slightly earlier version.

Why was the pump installation so long delayed?

  • Did officers in Gouzeaucourt change? The gaps in correspondence during 1923/24 suggest this.
  • Confusion was not only in Gouzeaucourt. On learning that books (livres) were to be sent from Worcester, the Prefecture North wrote to Gouzeaucourt to ask if it was books or pounds sterling which was to be sent.
  • Was language a problem? We only have the letters preserved at Gouzeaucourt, not those received in Worcester. Some were written in English but most in French, some appear to have notes made before a 'clean' copy was made, and some carried hasty translations.
  • Did they use the petrol engine to pump the water in the meantime so the urgency for the wind pump was less?

Only in May 1924 did a letter from Gouzeaucourt indicate a readiness to install the pump. However this letter gives a clue as to the delay.  “Les travaux de creusement du puits pour l’adduction d’eau potable sont termines et que le moulin et la pompe peuvent être installés” [the excavation works for the well for the supply of drinking water have been completed and that the mill and pump can now be installed.”]  In the final letter from Worcester some months later in March 1925, when the balance of the funds was sent to Gouzeaucourt, in addition to their hopes that the pump was working well Worcester also asked about the depth of the well.   It would appear that either a new well had to be dug to supply safe drinking water, or some extensive works had to be carried out on the existing one, and this was the cause of the delay.

Once the village was ready to install its gift in May 1924, and presumably in light of the delays which had occurred, they also asked if the mechanics from the Climax works were finally to visit, or whether they should employ a local firm to erect the wind pump, the Water and Sanitation Tenderers for Work for the Supply of Water.  The correspondence does not continue so we do not know whether a local firm was used or whether the Thomas mechanics visited in order to help.  Certainly money was deducted from the final sum to cover the costs of the installation and it shows in the final reckoning, but we do not have any information to whom it was paid. 

By 1924 reconstruction in France was underway and firms such as this had sprung up to fill the earlier void in experience and training which hampered efforts in the first few years after the war.  Papers held in the Worcestershire Archives about Evesham’s ‘godchild’, Hébuterne, which are a complete archive of all the letters and transactions of that adoption, contain several approaches to a ‘godparent’ looking for work in restoring water supplies and reinstating drainage.   This was not an area in which Evesham undertook to send help, but the letters and flyers have been preserved along with their other papers.  This must have been known in Gouzeaucourt by 1924 and such advertising most probably received there also.  These developments may have made a visit from English mechanics unnecessary

Gouzeaucourt was twice reprimanded for not acknowledging payments and goods sent from Worcester. On the second occasion when the complaint came from the Prefecture, as punishment, they were to be removed from the list of needy villages.

However Worcester continued to support its godchild.

Letter confirming money sent to Gouzeaucourt for books.

The collection had paid for the pump, the petrol engine and the costs of the engineers, along with a prize for school children to be known as the “Prix de Worcester”. The remainder of the money, 3,153.5 francs, was used to provide books for the library.

“All our books were destroyed. Winter is coming and many people are without work. It would be very good for them to have books for reading.”
Letter from Gouzeaucourt to Worcester September 1921

The final payment was made in 1925 after the pump had been installed and was used to provide library books.



An appeal from the Association “France and Great Britain” in Paris in 1929. Such was the scale of unemployment and poverty in Britain that an appeal was made for godchildren to give employment to men from their godparent town as a means of returning the help which had been given and supporting them through the Great Depression.