Above: Stone beside Marylebone Lane.
The subject of the Great Conduit, which supplied water to a water tap in Poultry, has already been described (on 12 November 2014). Enter ‘Conduit’ in the search box and it will be one of the blogs that is listed. Fresh spring water was brought over relatively large distances to supply the residents of the City of London with water that was not polluted – like that from the nearby Thames or even the River Walbrook. The process of piping the water was also described in the earlier blog and will not be repeated here.
Because the process did have water pumps to move the water along the pipes, it was necessary to find a spring that was physically higher than the end point (at Poultry, in the City of London). As it happens, the land in London in general slopes upwards from the Thames as you walk north. A source of fresh water was found where the River Tyburn. Part of its course is close to the southern end of what is now called Marylebone Lane. Water could be piped from the stream and fall by gravity through the wooden conduit pipe all the way to the City of London.
One point on the route is still marked by a splendid incised stone, dated 1776. By that date the conduit had ceased to be used in the City because the conduit was destroyed in the Great Fire (1666) and it was not rebuilt. The spot is marked by a large stone now set into the base of a wall of commercial premises on the east side of Marylebone Lane. It is at the junction of Marylebone Lane and Wigmore Street. Most of Marylebone Lane joins the north side of Wigmore Street but a further short section of Marylebone Lane continues south to meet Oxford Street. The stone is on the east side at the north end of the shorter section of Marylebone Lane.
Obviously, the City of London had an interest in the route of the conduit in 1776 because the stone bears their name along with the date. It forms a point of reference for the conduit in the St Marylebone area and the stone is all to easily missed as you negotiate the busy streets of the West End.