BUILDER Brian Ellis was using a digger to clear some land at the back of a shop in Cove Road, Cove, when he uncovered some brickwork. To his amazement he discovered a six feet wide, 14 feet deep hole containing lots of water.

At first Brian thought the hole was a well -but Cove historian Arthur Lunn identified it as a water cistern used to supply fresh water to a large house that stood on the site until about a century ago.

Armed with old maps and lists of Cove residents Arthur discovered that the house had belonged to the Instone family, blacksmiths and wheelwrights and members of the Particular Baptist group who worshipped at a chapel by Cove Green.

Brian, who lives in Elmsleigh Road, had been asked to clear the site as it was covered by old glass left behind by a glass business that used to be in the shop.

He told the Star: "I cannot believe the quality of the brickwork. It probably dates back to about 1840 and has been under the ground for a century yet it is in marvellous condition.

"I reckon it could hold 3500 gallons of water and I think it would be nice to leave it so that people could come to look at it."

The cistern has currently been filled with soil as a safety precaution but there has been a steady flow of people coming to look as the news has spread.

Arthur Lunn and his "Cove Time Team" have also been searching for artefacts and have found rusty pieces of metal, an old bottle and a Rushmoor twinning medal of much more recent vintage.

Said Arthur: "The water would have fed from a large roof gutter area and the need for so much domestic water shows that it was a large and important dwelling. This is an exciting discovery from Cove's past."