Origins and historyThe earliest reference to Wellow Dam in documents is in the reckoning of "Landes and cottages within the Lordship of Welley in the County of Nottingham, belonging to the Honorable Sir George Savile, Barron, taken in the latter ends of August in the year of our Lord 1657", and the earliest map showing the dam is dated 1738.It is, however, widely believed to be much older, and to have gone back much closer to the origins of Wellow itself, around 1145AD, and a variety of theories exist on its purpose. Although these theories must largely be conjecture, they are examined here, so that the reader may form his or her own judgements.The Dam is man - made, and would therefore have been dug out with one or more specific purposes in mind - we don't know whether the original excavation was the same size as now, or whether it was made bigger over time. But it certainly was not made for fun, and would have taken a considerable amount of hard work to complete.Legend has it that the Dam was made by the monks of Rufford as a fish pond; given that it is a long way from the Abbey, and that they already had plenty of scope for fish stocks there , this doesn't seem too likely - particularly when you consider that the stocked pond would be much closer to the fishermen of Wellow than the monks! But remembering that the village grew up from the ex - settlers of Rufford and Cratley, it is not impossible that the men of Wellow made it with fish in mind (although that might not have been the prime purpose).It might have been excavated for the clay; given that the early dwellings in the village would have been made of mud and clay, there would have been a ready source there for the early houses, or, later, to be used to make bricks. The amount of clay coming from the Dams' present size would have been far too much, though, for the original size of the village.But to state the obvious,whoever begun the first excavation, did so deliberately in the path of a stream, in the knowledge that the hole they made would fill with water. If the only purpose had been to get at the clay, presumably the hole could have been dug somewhere a little drier!. So the theory that the purpose was for a water supply for the settlers is also valid.More likely, perhaps, that there was a dual need, for water, and for clay, and that this spot met both; perhaps with the later addition of a supply of fresh fish. It is likely, too, that the original dam was much smaller, and was expanded over time.This still does not help us with a date, and despite best efforts, none has been forthcoming. So somewhere between 1145AD and 1657AD is the answer - and this is, admittedly, a very wide window of probability.Looking at Wellow through the ages, there are times when it is possible to see a very distinct advantage in having that water source, outside the village, and independent of the (plentiful) water supply within it. It would be particularly beneficial to be able to water stock there, not only locally-owned livestock, but also the travelling animals on the way to market, and passing through Wellow because of the village's position on an important main road. Perhaps the livestock stayed overnight, whilst their keepers sampled the delights of Wellow's numerous pubs, and brought trade to the village.So although the origins are still a mystery, we can be sure that over the centuries, the dam has provided practical benefits, but also fun and recreation. We know this for the 20th century - why should it not be so in earlier times? Children, despite hard times, would hopefully have had some time to play.Records show that in 1928, the then Lord of the Manor gave his permission for the dam to be let out to a fishing club, and he waived his rights to the income from this, on condition that Toftholders used the fees to maintain the banks and the greens. But he stipulated that this should not interfere with the rights of local children to enjoy the water. And it is clear from the memories we publish in this booklet, that they certainly did that! The fact that so many memories revolve around skating on the dam brings home how much more severe the winters must have been then - the water is hardly ever frozen these days, and then not thickly enough to make the ice safe.And what an evocative memory of the plough horses, after a hard days' work in the fields, having their legs washed and splashing around in the cool water.So the Wellow Dam is just as much a piece of history as any fine building or statue - and much more useful; we should be glad we have it.