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Friday, 4 July 2008

About BWTAS

The British Water Tower Appreciation Society exists to connect enthusiasts of water towers to share their enjoyment of their artistic, cultural, architectural, historical, social and engineering significance

We are a society that tries not to burden ourselves with administration, committees and all that stuff (although we have them). BWTAS is whatever the members can make of it themselves.

PURPOSE

The society is a forum for the exchange of information and it supports members in recording their local water towers and researching into their history. It hopes to share that work through the pages of this blog. It has established reciprocal links with other bodies such as the Folly Fellowship and the DeutschWasserturm Gesellschaft. Internationale.

WHAT IT DOES

So far BWTAS has staged exhibitions of water tower art and crafts, given talks, organised tours, manned exhibition stands, written guidebooks on water towers, been on radio and TV to tell people about water towers and it hopes that you can help it to do more. Amongst its members are architects, artists, historians, civil engineers, utility company employees and tower owners as well as 'just plain folk'.

The society welcomes enquiries from tower owners, researchers, historians, architects, students and so forth looking for information on water towers and it knows of experts and resources it can direct them too. We also have members prepared to give presentations to interested groups.



ETHOS

BWTAS is non-political (such as taking a position on phone mast issues) and is not preservationist but examples all over the world show that water towers of any size and material can have commercial and social benefits by their preservation. Many redundant water towers in Britain have been put to imaginative reuse. 

Too often these structures are claimed to have "no historical or architectural merit" because their documented history isn't available or hasn't been preserved. BWTAS encourages the open exchange of information so that decisions on these matters can be taken properly.

The security of the public water supply once made it necessary to keep information on water towers out of the public domain but the privatisation of the public water companies unfortunately caused the loss of important archives before that restriction was no longer required. Much of the history of British water tower engineers, architects and builders who led the world in this technology has been lost but many members are trying to secure what remains.

BWTAS encourages the responsible enjoyment of water towers which it thinks is best done from a distance. Both disused and working water towers have numerous dangers to the unprepared. Besides risks of death by falling (which we see too many reports of) even the base of a working tower can have unstable masonry or fixtures, disease carrying vermin, open pits filled with deep sludge, asbestos, live wiring and a host of other hazards. If you like to explore towers please stay away from going into them without permission, it annoys their owners. You can join BWTAS and help us organise safe access for study and public tours instead.

JOINING

Membership is £5 for adults and £1 for aged 16 and under. Since the founding in 2006, BWTAS has not had to ask the members for renewals but will reserve the right to do so.

To apply, send your contact information and no smaller than a letter (DL) size SAE with 1st or 2nd class postage for 30g and £5 or £1 made out to BWTAS to

Membership
BWTAS
Green Gables, The Street, Wenhaston, Suffolk IP19 9DP

Tel: 01502 478606
email bwtas@hotmail.co.uk
For family or group membership, send extra SAEs with 1st or 2nd postage for 30g.

Enquiries on any topic are best addressed in a letter (snail mail) to this address as not all the committee or our membership and numerous contacts have email.

MEETINGS

Meetings are held whenever people want to get together to talk about towers and make plans to promote their appreciation. Dates will be posted on this blog.

HOW BWTAS STARTED


In 2002 photographer Nat Bocking had the idea of writing what became 'A guide to the water towers of East Anglia' because he had been photographing water towers for local landscape studies but he could not find any information about who built them and why.

Seeing a gap in a market, he spent far too much time and a great deal of his money on travelling and research but he finally found a source of funds to pay for 2200 copies of his free guide to be printed. 

He enlisted the help of graphic designer Paul Welch and by September 2005 it was ready and in a few short months all the copies given to museums and TICs in Suffolk and Norfolk were greedily snapped up. The Institution of Civil Engineers now offers a scanned copy.

The guide then led to Nat's appearance on local TV and radio which was seen by retired teacher Brian Light who was preparing a water tower history of 'Jumbo' the water tower in Colchester. In Wenhaston artist friends Wil Harvey and Andy Norris, who had been painting water towers for years, realised that Nat lived only a mile away. Eventually so many people interested in water towers got in touch with each other that it was decided to form a society. In May 2006 the British Water Tower Appreciation Society was formed at the Star Inn, Wenhaston.

27 comments:

uk said...

Just found your site....wonderful!

I bought the 2 water towers in Halstead about 3 months ago as my home. I love it! There really is nothing quite as unique as living in one of these wonderful structures.

My email is uk@tapematic.com if anyone has any questions...likewise, if anybody has any info such as old pictures, aerial views, stories, history or anecedotes etc I would be most indebted.
The smaller tower has a very large and very deep brick built Artesian? well. I though in the summer we might try and go down it and have a look. There is flowing water that can be seen at the bottom which I assume is the underground river that used to supply the water for the town.

Kindest Regards

David

Nat Bocking said...

Welcome David. We to see you at a BWTAS meeting sometime.

Stewart Goudie said...

There is a disused water tower in Cammo Estate in NorthWest Edinburgh. Apparently there are some plans to develop the surrounding area, but I don't know anything about the tower itself. Can anyone else add anything?

Nat Bocking said...

Stewart,

I'll put a link up to some pics but apart from wikipedia BWTAS doesn't know much about the Cammo tower yet.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cammo

If you like a good book on the history of water towers 'Water Towers of Britain' by Barry Barton is the only title we know of.

kjthurston said...

Hi Nat,

I was wondering if you, or somebody in your society, might be able to tell me when the Pakefield water towers (both north and south) were built. I've Googled extensively, with no luck!

Many thanks

Nat Bocking said...

Stradbroke Road (A1145) was built in 1935 and the one on London Road (A12) was built in 1959. We don't know the capacities though.

jdbloke said...

I was wondering if you may be able to help me locate the owners or agents of Freston Water Tower, I was reading with interest about the band British Sea Power using it to shoot a video which I would like to do similar but unable to glean any current information from the internet.

Any help greatly appreciated

Kind regards

Paul

Nat Bocking said...

If you could send me your contact details, I can pass them to the last person we knew of owning the tower who could then contact you. I can't publish or send you their details without their permission.

Scotland1 said...

When I was very small, I went to a beautiful beach in Sussex and the car was parked in a huge field used as a car park near the beach. On the opposite side of the field car park to the beach in the nothern horizon was a tall cream concrete water tower. Does anyone know where the location of this is please? I have tried to find out for a long time but have failed. It is between West Wittering and Worthing. Many Thanks Charles

Scotland1 said...

When I was very small, I went to a beautiful beach in Sussex and the car was parked in a huge field used as a car park near the beach. On the opposite side of the field car park to the beach in the nothern horizon was a tall cream concrete water tower. Does anyone know where the location of this is please? I have tried to find out for a long time but have failed. It is between West Wittering and Worthing. Many Thanks Charles

AnnL said...

Hi BWTAS,

Wonder if you can help. For years now I have been trying to find a photo of the water tower at Colliers Wood in south London that was pulled down rather suddenly about 10 years ago. I was about to take some pics of it when I noticed it had disappeared from the landscape in the quiet way that these things sometimes take place. Most people won't have seen it, but it was a fantastic, almost gothic, folly of a building. I thought that I'd get tired of the hunt, but every so often I think of new places to look for a pic and I found your blog in one of those moments. (Really enjoyed browsing it too...)

Ann

Scotland1 said...

A decision to construct a water tower at the Witterings was made in 1946 but due to funding constraints, construction did not start until 1951. As a result the residents in that area had to suffer hosepipe restrictions in the summers of 1950 and 1951.



Despite the completion of the water tower in May 1952, widespread problems with low pressure were experienced in the summer of 1954 and again restrictions were imposed. A scheme was put forward for laying a reinforcement main from Salthill Road in Fishbourne to Birdham in 1955 but it was some years before Ministry approval was received for the expenditure. Work on the second section of the main from Fishbourne to Appledram Lane commenced early in 1960 and this work led to the discovery of Fishbourne Roman Palace in 1960.

Does this water tower still exist and where exactly is it? I think I saw it when I was a little boy of 6 from the beach on top of a hill inland. Thanks Charles

Pie Master said...

Hello Charles,
I searched for this tower after your first post and found nothing on maps etc. Looking at this again and using the keyword "Wittering" I came upon the site that I guess you copied your comments from: http://www.portsmouthwater.co.uk/about-us/default2.aspx?id=5434 It has a photograph of the tower and when double clicked, opens up a 1835 × 2444 pixel image. Since I can't find it, I guess it has been demolished - I will write to Portsmouth Water to see if they can supply further information and location.

Thanks for your comment,
Ferrers

Pie Master said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pie Master said...

Wittering Water Tower, West Sussex

As noted above, the decision to build the Wittering water tower was made in 1946, but delayed due to financial constraints. The scheme by Chirchester Corporation for the construction of an 80,000 gallon, reinforced concrete, tower in Church Road, East Wittering, was estimated to cost £19,385. Approval for that work to commence was given in June 1950. By September 1950, a water main had been laid to the site and Concrete Piling Ltd had made substantial progress with the foundations. The tower itself was started on the 12th February 1951. The tower was first filled with water on the 10th of March 1952, and came into service on 28th May 1952.

The tower has sadly gone - it is shown on maps up to 1974 at SZ 7971 9736, to the West of Church Road, just North of the disused windmill. A map dated 1983-87 shows the current housing on "Tower Place" (http://tiny.cc/gy74n).

Ferrers

micky said...

bowater tower gravesend -is it protected ; what is its future ?

Nat Bocking said...

we don't know any issues about the Kimberly Clarke tower. One of our members has visited it but only because they were doing a survey of the buildings next door. http://bwtas.blogspot.com/2009/03/kimberly-clark-tower-at-northfleet.html

You can get the info on listed buildings from English Heritage.

Colin said...

Dear Sirs

I am in my final year of studying for a degree in professional photography. For my final exhibition project I am concentrating on water towers in the UK. As a major part of this I wish to photograph the interiors as well as exteriors of towers that have been converted into living/office space.

In return I can offer free images, this will be taken on a large format film camera.

If you feel you are able to assist please contact me on 07553 408253 or 01666 860703, email colinbaird@btinternet.com

Regards

Colin

SaveOur said...

Hi, Wondering if you can help me, I've been trying to find information about the Droitwich water tower online and have found nothing. Does anyone know anything about this tower?
Thanks
Quirky2u

Nat Bocking said...

Had a look in my files and it's not on any lists of towers. Have you had a look in the local records office or written to the present owner?

Chris Blamey said...

I am wanting to purchase the Water Tower at Milford Hospital in Surrey, to retain / convert it for residential use, and have recently made an offer to the Homes and Communities Agency. It is now proposed, via the Consultation Draft of a Development Brief for the larger site, that the water tower should be demolished. Would the BWTAS support me in making comments and recommendations to Waverley Borough Council to ensure that the water tower is retained, as was meant to be the case under previous planning policy.

Nat Bocking said...

BWTAS does not as a body generally comment on planning and preservation issues, though individual members may well do so, What we try to do is ensure planning applications and the like are considered fully with all available facts. Many reports citing a tower has "no architectural or historical merit" is often found not to be the case when it has been properly examined.

kes said...

Hi what a fantastic site! I recently acquired a 1950's concrete water tower near harrogate. I am interested in how it was constructed ie foundations, strength and how tank is secured to the column as I hope to apply for planning to convert it into a dwelling. Would very much appreciate it if anyone could help with any information or advice. Thank you! shepherdkirsty@hotmail.com

Nat Bocking said...

Kes, I believe Pie Master has responded:

We are assuming this would be the tower at Birstwith? Unfortunately that is a tower we currently know nothing about.

You can rest easy regarding foundations - they will be more than adequate for a dwelling. When you consider the weight of water they have to support (10lbs per gallon - do you know the capacity? and probably as much again for the weight of the tower) and that these structures are top heavy and must not start to lean...

We guess it'll be a single circular foundation. Some towers that have perimeter legs in addition to the load baring service shaft, have two foundations, an inner circular one and an outer ring - not quite sure why at this minute. Construction methods differ from tower to tower.

Any information that you discover about this water tower we would be most interested in, so that we may add it to our knowledge base.

You may be interested a recent conversion of another RC tower at Latchingdon that is featured in these articles: http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/maldon_water_tower_on_the_market_1_1381601 and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/9265320/Property-for-sale-why-this-water-tower-is-one-to-watch.html

Heritage Ranter said...

Hello

This is my first visit to your blog. Thought you might be interested in this information about the forthcoming auction of the Rockwell Green Water Towers near Wellington in Somerset.

http://www.bradleys-estate-agents.co.uk/pdf.php?vars=propertypdf-sales-brdrps-BNH120151-1357841026

Regards

Lesley

Chateau d'eau said...

Hello
Today I bought a water tower!
Very Very Exciting!
I think it's a Braithwaites. I'll be sending my SAE in the post tomorrow for my membership to this fantastic society.

Brilliant!
onwards and upwards!

Tower fan said...

After enjoying the documentary on Pannel water tower I found your interesting site. My father was manager of Dereham waterworks in Norfolk. For a treat he used to take my sisters and I up the staircases and then up a ladder to the very top to look in the tank filled with water and we could climb onto a ladder above the tank to look at the view through the roof light. Looking back, it was obviously very dangerous but a great memory! I think the tower was put up for sale a few years ago.
Rosalind Terry (nee Tye).