George Angelo Bell

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“St John’s Church, Chester” by George Angelo Bell. This shows the original location of Jacobs Well.


George Angelo Bell (9th Oct 1817 - 13th Apr 1886) was a Civil Engineer from Bath who lived in Cumberland before settling in Chester in 1847/8. He lived at 10 Newgate Street for many years.

He was concerned with the provision of sewerage systems in Chester, and became chief engineer in 1855 when errors were found in his predecessor Baylis' accounts. He lasted less than a year escaping to more lucrative private practice.

By the late 1860s the faults of Baylis's system were becoming apparent. There was a cholera outbreak in 1866 which saw a hospital set up in what later became Grosvenor Park. George Angelo Bell had already advised sewer ventilation in 1866, and in 1869 after a damning report commissioned by the Local Government Board he was called in as a consultant and recommended ventilation as an urgent necessity. Many of the vents installed at the time can still be seen around Chester.

In 1872–5, alarmed by analysis of the drinking water, and with Bell as consultant, the council built intercepting sewers to collect the outfall from Baylis's drains, one running from the Bars to the Little Roodee and the other from Liverpool Road to a new treatment works by the Dee off Sealand Road, from where the treated effluent was discharged into the river.


Apart from many engineering drawings Bell produced one notable illustration of steps leading to St Johns from the River Dee which shows Jacobs Well in its original location and the tower of St Johns, which collapsed in 1881, still intact.

The identity of the building shown only in part to the right of Bell's illustration is unclear. It could be the Hermitage (known at the time as "Rock Cottage") or some building incorporating part of the Hermitage. The puzzle is that it seems displaced towards the west and seems not to incorporate the ancient sandstone outcrop on which the Hermitage stands - a left-over from quarrying. The Lavaux Map of 1745 actually has a building hereabouts labled as belonging to "Thos Lee Esq".

The well itself was moved to Grosvenor Park in 1923 where it can still be seen, although it is no-longer connected to any kind of water-supply and is quite dry.

The wall behind the well is still standing today and still has the curved section at the corner.

A Gallery Relating to the Watercolour

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