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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

History Repeating Itself…

© Photograph Copyright Peter Loosely

The above picture has the note: "Water tower construction — Nigeria (tower collapsed when filled with water)". Another picture here and here.

I came across this photograph, that I think was probably taken in the 1980s, when scanning some of the vast collection of photographs donated to BWTAS by Peter Loosely (A Water Tower Winfal!!). This reminded me of a similar collapse that happened here in the UK, back in the 1900s in Witney, Oxfordshire:

Copy of 1904 Postcard sent in by BWTAS member Keith Taylor

The tower was built by Witney council, at it's water works in 1903, at a cost of £6,000. A few months after the tower was operational, the cast iron panels burst. The postcard has on the reverse, a poem that appeared in the Witney Gazette, February 27th 1904:

"The Bursting of the tank"
Water tower,
Tank on top,
Filled with water,
Went off pop.

Sudden strain,
Sides bent,
Big rent.

Losing water,
Quite a crock,
To the Council,
Quite a shock.

Great sensation,
Council run,
And people too,
To see the fun (?)

Poor little Lamb,
With names below,
So proudly raised,
Dishonoured so.

"It's not our fault,"
Perhaps they'll say,
But who will have
To pay, pay, pay?

Following the collapse, a new tank was installed but that suffered a similar fate in 1905:

Copy of 1905 Postcard sent in by BWTAS member Keith Taylor

This second postcard has on the back, a hand written comment: "Gone again. Looks a wreck doesn't it". The post mark is 22nd July 1905.

When the tower was built, it was reported that it required over 90,000 bricks and it's capacity was 80,000 gallons. It is interesting to note that the capacity is cited in "Return as to Water Undertakings in England and Wales." Return to an Order of The House of Commons, 24 November 1910, as only 60,0000 gallons — presumably, it was decided to be less ambitious and a smaller capacity tank was installed, with subsequent reduced lateral pressures to cope with. The tower was supplied from a deep well and pumping station at Apley Barn. The water tower was never able to supply enough water for the growing needs of the town, it served until it became redundant with the opening of the Worsham waterworks, which we believe was in 1937. The tower was then demolished around 1938. It stood on what was then known as Union Hill, at O.S. Grid Ref. SP 34471 10231.


Monday, 9 October 2017

Essex Update…

Brian Light, Wil Harvey and Ferrers Young man the BWTAS & BTT stand at Basildon

The big news is, at last, there seems to be a bright future for Colchester's "Jumbo" water tower. Brian Light of the Balkerne Tower Trust was able to update folk at the Essex Industrial Heritage Fair, with the latest news: The Colchester and North East Essex Building Preservation Trust have reached an agreement with the owner of Jumbo, on a way forward to preserve the tower, as reported in the Colchester Gazette.

Meanwhile the British Water Tower Appreciation Society was able to provide some information on other water towers. But the information flow was not all one way — we were alerted to a large estate water tower, that until now had escaped our radar: Theobalds House, off the A10. This now needs to be researched… Additionally, we learnt that the now demolished, reinforced concrete water tower at Ripper's Joinary (seen here at the top of the photo, in 1929) not only supplied the works, but about 100 workers cottages — so now has to be recorded under "Public Water Supply" as well as "industrial". We also learnt of the tower that pre-dated the concrete one.

The information flowing both ways…

All in all, an informative and enjoyable day,

Sunday, 1 October 2017

B.W.T.A.S. in Basildon… Saturday 7th October, 2017

The British Water Tower Appreciation Society will have a presence at the Essex Industrial Heritage Fair just South of Basildon, 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. Entry and parking are both Free!!! The Wat Tyler Country Park also offers: 125 acres of stunning parkland, a comfortable café offering a wide range of refreshments and amenities for a great family day out…

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 new BWTAS mugs. I'll be there along with fellow committee member Brian Light and our Chairman Wil Harvey, to try to answer any water tower questions that you have…

We hope to see you there,

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Knapton Lights

North Norfolk's answer to the Northern Lights…

This stunning image was sent in by BWTAS member, Carys O'Brien — Laser lights illuminated Knapton’s landmark water tower with the words "Trunchonbury Festival" (they have a very nice web site). The original image is a massive 4096 × 2304 pixels and makes excellent "wallpaper" for your computer's Desktop — click this link to access the full size image.

The Knapton tower was built about 1957 and holds 75,000 gallons of water, with the top water level being 194 ft. above Ordnance Datum (55 ft. above ground level). The tower is loacted at TG 30348 34069.


Monday, 26 June 2017

New BWTAS mugs, now available…

Mugs Away !

A redesigned BWTAS mug is now available! This time, it not only features the BWTAS logo, but also a unique work of art — the stunning interpretation of a London water tower – 'Ladbroke Lady' by Suffolk artist Clare Johnson. The mugs are available in two sizes: Bone china (8 fl oz) or the larger (10 fl oz) enamel mug. These new mugs are only available direct from BWTAS for only £5·00 + £2·90 p&p (for up to 3 mugs). These are sure to sell quickly, if sales of our original mug are to go by, so get ahead of the game and get your Christmas gifts now. Orders with cheque made out to BWTAS please, to BWTAS, Green Gables, The Street, Wenhaston, Suffolk IP19 9DP.

Wil Harvey

Friday, 19 May 2017

Manton, Rushden, Northamptonshire (1961)

Britain's second water tower to utilise prestressed reinforced concrete! Pre-stressed concrete was first used in this country for water tower construction back in 1953, for the small Meare tower in Somerset, which we featured here in February, 2009. Like the earlier tower, the Manton tower completed some eight years later, again only uses pre-stressed concrete for the tank, that has a capacity of 300,000 gallons. It's supporting cylindrical service shaft is of regular reinforced concrete. The tower was built for the Higham Ferrers & Rushden Water Board and can be seen under construction in the image on the right, reproduced with the kind permission of The Concrete Society.

The tower is located at SP 94130 66637 and the above image was the only full tower shot I could get, unlike this rather beter photograph, where the photographer looks to have had access to a neighbouring property.


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Lathockar Water Tower Restored !

© Photograph Copyright Martin Tomlinson

BWTAS was recently contacted by Martin Tomlinson, who kindly provided information and images of the Lathockar water tower — a tower until then, unknown to BWTAS. Martin had supplied St Andrews in focus magazine, with an article back in July 2013, when the tower was surrounded by trees. An extract that is reproduced here:

The water tower was built over 100 years ago and was erected to provide water to the Lathockar Estate when the manor house existed. The water was provided by a hydraulic ram from Cameron Burn behind Cameron Village Hall, which is still there. Prior to the water tower being built, water was taken manually from Cameron Burn to the manor house. The lady, named Christy Scott, who provided the water lived in a now derelict cottage named Hazelden Cotton in the woods behind Cameron Village Hall.

The water tower and the manor house can clearly be seen on a map from 1894. During WWII a Prisoner of War camp was constructed to the south of the tower, the buildings are still there. The article continues:

After the war, one of the ex prisoners, of the prisoner of war camp behind the tower, from eastern Europe returned to Fife and searched for the tower. Johnny Paul saw this man twice on the roads at Dunino and at Balone. The man also spoke to the foresters wife at Cameron and asked for directions to the tower. A forester used to check the water level periodically in the water tower and on the same day went into the tower and noticed a man there. He spoke to the man who didn’t answer. The forester noticed that the man’s feet were not on the floor. The man had committed suicide by hanging himself in the tower. Apparently the man had travelled from eastern Europe for this sole purpose.

© Photograph Copyright Martin Tomlinson

Now the tower is a marvellous feature on the skyline, restored to its original glory by Nivens — the developer who is building 13 houses on the site. "Well done" we say, for understanding the heritage of the tower. Prior to this intervention, the tower was in very poor shape with trees encroaching, some fallen on to it and threatened with demolition! This is despite the water tower being registered as an Ancient and Historical Monument — see here.

© Photograph Copyright Martin Tomlinson

© Photograph Copyright Martin Tomlinson

Click on pictures for a larger image… The tower is located at NO 48927 10889.


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 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