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Bunhill: Corking plan to bottle Brontes

WATER, water everywhere, and not a drop for free. Walk into a supermarket and you are faced by massed ranks of bottled mineral water. So it should come as no surprise that three Yorkshire businessmen intend to make a splash of their own in this market.

What is a shock is the source of this new flow: Haworth, within sight of the parsonage where the Bronte sisters penned Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

The water-bearers, led by Tim Saville, a Huddersfield lubrication-oil dealer, have been granted provisional licences to extract water at this shrine for literary pilgrims. They claim early samples, tested at laboratories in Sheffield, show that the natural spring water 50 metres below the surface is free of pollutants and contains more beneficial minerals than Perrier.

What's more, Saville says, the water has been lying there undisturbed for anything between 20 and 2,000 years - which means consumers will be drinking water that fell as rain while the Brontes were roaming the moors.

The trio are awaiting planning permission and full licences from the National Rivers Authority to pump 20,000 litres a day, which would be bottled elsewhere. 'This is a multi-million-pound market and we are sure that Bronte Water, with its excellent mineral qualities and literary connections, will be a best- seller,' Saville added.

Where next? Dove Cottage? Windsor Castle? What would the sisters in their gloomy house have made of it?

(Photograph omitted)