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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Suffolk Water Tower under construction in 1953

© Copyright Michael Smith and Linda Woodward, reproduced by kind permission of SARA Strabroke Village Archive

The above image was taken by the prolific photographer Geoffrey Smith in 1953. Much of his work has been made available by the Stradbroke Archive & Record Association on their web site. Unfortunately we don't know which water tower it is being built — it was labelled “Fressingfield Water Tower 1953”.

The smaller 100,000 gallon water tower at Fressingfield, was built in 1955 and is a slender tower with central a service shaft and 12 legs… There are three water towers in Suffolk, of the design shown under construction, all built about 1953: Dennington TM 27161 66726, Framlingham TM 29938 63491 and Blythburgh TM 45367 74244. If you can identify this tower, please leave a comment below.

Tower at Fressingfield

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A Water Tower Windfall!!

BWTAS was recently contacted by Peter Loosley, who had been photographing water towers since 1976. He was unaware of our existence until his wife, Pat, read about us in Bill Bryson's book "The Road to Little Dribbling". He was keen that his collection of over 1,000 water towers worldwide went to a good home and offered them to us. A small delegation from BWTAS was assembled and went to meet Peter and his wife…

From left to right: Barry Barton (President), Andy Norris (Hon. Treasurer), Pat & Peter Loosley,
Wil Harvey (Chairman) & Ferrers Young (Archives)

On arrival we were greeted most warmly and enjoyed good hospitality… After coffee, biscuits and home made cake, Peter gave us a PowerPoint presentation that he'd previously created: "Living History — A Millenium of Water Towers Worldwide" that covered the development of materials and structures for the collection, storage and distribution of water through the ages.

This naturally created some discussion! Of particular interest was a tower, the like none of us had previously seen — one with a toroidal tank! This is located in Ciechanów, Poland, designed by Jerzy Michal Boguslawski and built in 1972, but now out of use. The tank is is supported on a hyperbolic steel lattice base. Unfortunately I haven't been able to establish its capacity, but measuring it on Google Earth™ it would appear to be somewhere in the region of 400,000 gallons.

We were able to continue our chat about water towers over a most enjoyable pub lunch — we had a lot to catch up on… Hopefully we'll see Peter and his wife again. We left then left with Peter's collection of water tower photographs.

Photograph of Ciechanów water tower reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Licence

Monday, 22 August 2016

Bucknell, Oxfordshire (1909)

Information Request…

© Copyright Anthony Parkes and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The above water tower is a Grade II listed building. Built in 1909 by Major Philip Hunloke to serve the Bucknell Manor estate and the village of Bucknell. It was used until the 1950s when mains water was installed. The tower, often referred to as Trow Pool water tower, is very prominent on the M40 between junctions 9 and 10 at SP 54860 24800.

BWTAS member James Clark is writing a book on motorway landmarks and would be very appreciative of any additional information regarding this tower. If you can help James, please email BWTAS:


© Copyright Alan Murray-Rust and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Monday, 15 August 2016

Uxbridge Common, Greater London (1907)

© Photograph Copyright Edmund Silvester

BWTAS member, Jennifer Silvester, kindly sent in this photograph of the now converted water tower located at TQ 06019 85191. The Uxbridge tower was completed in 1907 for the Uxbridge Water Works company, holding 80,000 gallons of water. Looking at old maps, we see that by 1934 a large reservoir has been built beside the tower, by Uxbridge Urban District Council. I do not know when the tower went out of use, but it was sold in 1980, for conversion to a dwelling. The tower is not a listed building.

If you can add any information, please leave a comment.


Tuesday, 3 November 2015

B.W.T.A.S. Calendar 2016:

It's here !

The BWTAS 2016 Calendar

Your Christmas presents solved… especially for your friend/relative who has everything: the 2016 BWTAS Water Towers Calendar. For the modest sum of £5·00 + £1·50 p&p, you can have a year's worth of stunning water tower images, including some from the BWTAS North Yorkshire Tour 2015. Orders with cheque made out to BWTAS please, to BWTAS, Green Gables, The Street, Wenhaston, Suffolk IP19 9DP. The back of the calendar featuring 'thumbnail' images is reproduced here - click to enlarge…

N.B. May's Photograph of the Spurn Point water tower is
© Mrs. M. Barton — not Dr. B. Barton as credited within.
Another Christmas present idea is “Water Towers of Britain” — the definitive book on UK water towers, by Society President, Dr. Barry Barton. This 240 page book (synopsis) is available for only £7·50 + £2·50 p&p, orders with cheque made out to BWTAS please, to BWTAS, Green Gables, The Street, Wenhaston, Suffolk IP19 9DP. Should you not have a cheque book, you may pay by bank transfer — please email BWTAS: for details… We can also do bulk orders of calendars — four calendars can ship in the UK for £2·00, a book and a calendar for £3·00 in the UK, £7.65 to rest of Europe.

Wil Harvey

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

B.W.T.A.S. @ Braintree, Saturday 10th October 2015

The British Water Tower Appreciation Society will have a presence at the Industrial Heritage Fair in Braintree, Essex, this coming Saturday. BWTAS has teamed up with the local Balkerne Tower Trust in order to have a stand at this event, hosted by the Essex Industrial Archaeology Group — a programme of events can be downloaded here. Entry is Free.

BWTAS will have copies of the definitive book on UK water towers: “Water Towers of Britain”, by Society President, Dr. Barry Barton, for sale at a heavily discounted price (synopsis). Also for sale will be the 2016 BWTAS Calendar — the last calendar we produced in 2012 was a sell out and became a collectors item! Brian Light of the Balkerne Tower Trust, will be giving a short talk on “Jumbo” and the Public Water Supply Industry. I'll be there too, to try to answer any water tower questions that you may have…

Time & Location:

Saturday 10th October 2015, 10:00 to 16:00
Braintree District Museum
Manor Street
Essex CM7 3HW

Hope to see you there,

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Cawston, Norfolk (1897)

A chance for members to visit…

The water tower was designed in 1897 by Sir Ernest George based on Dutch architecture of the time, it is the only ten sided water tower in Europe and is built of Cawston red brick, made at the Marshall Howard Brick Kiln. The owner of Cawston Manor, an American stockbroker coincidently called George Cawston, had it built to get fresh water to the Manor.

David Forster attended Cawston College as a boy and first became acquainted with the water tower then when his teacher, George Mumford, took him up the tower via the 85 ft. ladder which remains in situ on the wall of the tower, running through every room.

He became aware that the tower was up for sale through his friendship with Nick Youngs, and was determined to buy it, and so with his inheritance purchased it from Nick’s father, Gerald in 2002.

David has done much of the work on the tower himself, to turn the tower into a home for his wife and two boys. The renovation was actually filmed by Channel 5 for their programme “Build a New Life in the Country”. David has now built an extension onto the tower, to house a workshop and living quarters for when he and his wife become unable to climb the many stairs up to each room of the tower.
Reproduced by kind permission of

The Cawston Remembers project have created this video of David and his water tower:

David and Jenny have kindly invited members of the British Water Tower Appreciation Society to visit their tower — all members should have received an e-mail from us with details… If you have not, please e-mail us at (regardless of whether you intend to come on this visit) so we can update our list and keep you informed of forthcoming activities. Places on this visit are limited, so you need book before you attend.


Monday, 23 March 2015

The Detective's Secret

According to the Sunday Times crime writer Lesley Thomson's latest novel The Detective's Secret is a "haunting novel about loss and reconciliation". It features a fictional water tower inspired by Thomson staying in a friend's converted tower in Paddington and BWTAS gets a grateful mention in the acknowledgements for supplying Lesley with a reading list.

Crime novels featuring water towers in the plot are few and far between but their dark and dank interiors and impenetrable and imperturbable strength and usefulness as a vantage point and for containing secrets is deftly exploited here. The results are well worth reading.

Lesley Thomson's website provides a gallery of images from the locations in which she has set her story.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Lesser Known Architecture touring exhibition offered

"Britain is rich with forgotten architecture: extraordinary buildings, structures and ideas that helped define the landscape of their time and the technology of the future, but which are often unknown to the general public."

Lesser Known Architecture is an ongoing photographic research project by Theo Simpson that seeks to document these structures, bringing their existence (and sometimes their plight) to a wider audience and acknowledges the architects and engineers who created such inspiring work.

 The original Design Museum exhibition, curated by Elias Redstone, featured ten lesser known architectural sites across London nominated by leading architecture critics. These were presented in a series of offset prints and Tank installation designed by Ben McLaughlin, and displayed as part of London Festival of Architecture in 2013. The touring exhibition features 30 framed prints, taking in sites not only in the capital, but across the United Kingdom as a whole.

"Lesser Known Architecture presents an architectural epitaph for a forgotten era."

We doubt BWTAS members are surprised that a water tower is the poster child for lesser known architecture. Should any venues host this touring exhibition being offered by the Design Museum, we would be happy to mention them here.

Download the exhibition proposal here

Photography: Theo Simpson
Guest Curator: Elias Redstone
Graphic Design: Ben McLaughlin
Tour Venues: National Centre for Craft and Design, Lincolnshire 22 November 2014 – 20 March 2015 Available: April 2015 onwards
Space: 50 linear metres approx.
Hire Fee: On request

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Castle Acre Open Day 22nd March 2015

Photographer Dennis Pedersen has always had a thing for water towers. He says he was inspired by the futuristic cartoon The Jetsons and Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds. Never did he think that he might one day be the proud owner of one.

Last year he bought a decommissioned Braithwaite type tower just outside Castle Acre in Norfolk.

To his dismay though he found that the presumed fate for the Meccano-like structure by the vendors and local planners was its demolition for its scrap value. However Dennis recognised the tower as an important part of the area's rural heritage and he had a vision that this unused resource could "create an outstanding example of sustainable recycling."

Inspired by the work of the Landmark Trust and the Living Architecture Project, he commissioned cutting edge architects Tonkin Liu to envisage a way to preserve the structure with minimal changes yet allow it to be reused for accommodation. Now he's holding an open day at the tower to show local people and water tower enthusiasts his plans.

BWTAS members have been especially invited to come along and some will be available to explain the engineering history and cultural significance of water towers. Dennis and his architect will be showing a model of a potential conversion and serving tea and biscuits and giving free tours of the tower from 10 AM to dusk. If you'd like to come and have a nosey around or see the plans or show your support, all would be very welcome.

Please note that access to the tank is restricted by ladders and Dennis can only take small groups up there. The risk assessment for any water tower is that heights and places only normally accessible to trained personnel can be dangerous and so your visit will be entirely at your own risk. You will have to be suitably fit if you want to climb up to visit the tank. The site is overgrown and derelict and appropriate footwear and clothing are advisable. No children or persons under 18 may go up the tower. 

Please check this page for updates before you set off as this event is dependent on weather and jobsworth. The tower is .2 miles from the village where there are numerous attractions and facilities. Please park considerately.

This is a rare opportunity and BWTAS is profoundly grateful to Mr. Pedersen for his offer of hospitality.

Sunday 22nd March, 10 AM to dusk
Massingham Rd
Castle Acre