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Monday, 28 December 2009

Landmark Lendal Tower up for sale

The Lendal Tower in the city of York is up for sale. Previously described in this blog, according to the Yorkshire Post the 700 year old tower is on the market for £650,000 in a distress sale of the assets of colourful property speculator David Hattersley.

The particulars available from Carter Jonas include the tower and several buildings and cottages.

From the Yorkshire Post:

Seven hundred years of history

Lendal Tower has stood next to the River Ouse since about 1300. It was built to help defend the city and housed a great iron chain that could be pulled across the river to the Barker Tower opposite. This gave protection in times of trouble and enabled tolls to be levied on river traffic. In 1677, the tower was leased for 500 years to the York Waterworks company established by Henry Whistler. It became the city's first waterworks with a horse- powered pump supplying the water via pipes made from hollowed out tree trunks.

After Mr Whistler died the concern was sold to Col William Thornton of Cattal and later to Jerome Dring in 1779 for £7,000 with shares held by John Smeaton, designer of the Eddystone Lighthouse. Mr Smeaton helped improve the steam engine at the waterworks, which in 1836 was given its own dedicated engine house. Lendal Tower's tank was also removed in the mid-1800s lowering the building by 10ft, and railway architect George Townsend Andrews added the medieval, crenellated roof. It was then used as stores and offices for the waterworks company that eventually became part of Yorkshire Water.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Stanbridge Road, Leighton Buzzard (1896)

This photograph of the Victorian water tower, that stood to the south of Stanbridge Road, at about SP 935 247, was kindly sent to me by Bedford Borough Council after I found details of this tower on their web site. The tower was about a hundred feet high and was demolished in the 1950's. The official guide to Leighton Buzzard of 1910 noted: "The council are the owners of the waterworks and provide a constant supply of pure and wholesome water, which is provided free of cost for domestic purposes. The water is obtained from a well over 200 feet deep, bored into the lower greensand, and is capable of yielding a supply of 164,000 gallons per day. The latest analysis made by an eminent public analyst states that the water is "simply perfect" and "is excellent water for public supply"".

There was another water tower about about 400 feet away, to the east at RAF Stanbridge. This too has beeen taken down. If anyone has any further information on either tower, please leave a comment.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Whose Horton's hearings?

The fate of an abandoned circa 1912-24 water tower at the former Horton Asylum in Epsom remains in doubt after a meeting of the local council's planning committee on 6th December 2009. The committee voted to recommend rejection of the London and Quadrant Housing Trust's proposal to redevelop the tower as the lift shaft for a new-build thirteen story block of flats.

download the plans

The housing trust's proposal also provided four two-bedroom apartments next to the existing tower, which would be repaired and refurbished.

According to the application: The water tower is constructed of yellow gault brick. It measures a maximum of 7.3m by 9.9m in plan and is 39m high.

The proposal is to insert floors into the main and largest shaft in the building and in a former flue shaft, to add a stair/lift core to one side of the tower and erect a four storey extension in order to provide four two-bed maisonettes.

The two lowest maisonettes would have two storeys each on the lower four floors and the two above would occupy four storeys each of the remaining eight storeys.

The existing spiral stair, which is to be blocked off between dwellings, would provide the internal link between the various floors of a dwelling. The new staircase is to be the fire escape and also leads to the dwelling entrances. The lift would be a ‘fire fighting’ type.

The applicants state the proposed lift and staircase is required because of the need for access and escape in the case of a fire.

The four storey extension at the base of the tower is shown with a flat roof a maximum of 11.8m high.

Externally, the existing tower windows are adjusted and enlarged and additional windows are provided to each new residential floor. The rotten pitched roof it removed to form a roof terrace and a small flat roofed conservatory directly accessed from the existing spiral staircase. The existing brick work will be cleared and the tower will receive a rendered plinth for two storeys to disguise previous workshop abatements.

The new lift and stair shaft would have a steel structure clad in a self coloured rendered finish.

Six parking spaces would be provided with vehicular access from a road in the adjoining open market housing under construction.

Top image lifted from Jason Rogers Flickr page.

The reasons given for refusal are the effect on adjacent dwellings and the effect on the appearance of the existing tower. Horton water tower is not listed but it is supposed to be retained because of its character and townscape importance.

The actual decision to refuse or to permit will be taken in public by the councillors on the Planning Committee later.

But the councils actions have angered local residents who are urging the council either to demolish or preserve the water tower, if the application is turned down by the Planning Committee.

According to the Epsom Guardian: Kate Battrick (a prominent stylist) who lives behind the tower, said: “They have to either demolish it or put on a proper preservation order and take responsibility for it. They can’t leave it like this. While we welcome the findings in the report, it does not address that Epsom Council has failed the residents in Livingstone Park, showing a lack of care and responsibility.”

More info on Horton Asylum can be found on websites detailing the history of the cluster of asylums in Epsom and Ewell: History of the Epsom Hospitals and history of County Asylums.

According to the Liberal Democrat held council website:

When Horton Chapel and Horton Water Tower were saved from demolition during the building of the Livingstone Park estate in Epsom, local residents were consulted about its future. That first meeting was held five years ago!

For a variety of reasons, there has been little progress since then and most recently regeneration of both buildings appears to have succumbed to the economic downturn.

Meanwhile the nearby Grade II listed St. Ebbas water tower (left) with its integral chimney is being converted to become a power station for a similar asylum redevelopment where its planning persmission requires 20% of the site's energy to be from renewable sources. In this instance that could be from a woodchip burner.

You can follow this all too familiar sounding planning saga from here: Public Meeting on Horton Chapel and Water Tower

BWTAS would be grateful for updates from anyone informed on the situation.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Water tower tea cosy

Here at BWTAS we're somewhat mystified as to why, perhaps someone will explain, but we came across this neat film of crochet artist Robyn Love with the assistance of the ad agency  TAXI transforming a New York City water tower (one of those Rosenwach wooden ones) with a pencil tea-cosy as some sort of stunt for the Designers & Art Directors Awards in 2008. We love it, whatever it is.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

L'Auberge Hotel in Punta del Este, Uruguay

"More than five decades old, the famous water tower of L'Auberge rises, majestic, amidst the tall pines, and is a silent witness of the evolution of the hotel, the tea room and all the Parque del Golf neighborhood..." so says the website of this first class hotel in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

When BWTAS saw these photos, the inspiration from the great houses and estates of Britain was obvious. This place is reminiscent of Surrey but with better beaches and weather and fewer frightfully, awfully, awfully types.

You can view some panoramic images from the top of the tower which is open to the public. There are rooms in the tower as well as suites and chalets in the grounds. Many tourist guides say that the afternoon tea at the hotel is a national institution. 

Even more interesting perhaps is the architect behind the tower who is recognised in his own country but not in the English speaking world. The water tower was designed in 1947 to be the focus of a resort development for the wealthy by Arturo J. Dubourg [1912- 2003], who must have been a swell guy, notching up over 300 major projects to his credit as well as being a tennis champion and a successful racing driver for Grey Rock, the name of one of his houses and a Peugeot car dealership. There are copious references to his work on the web in Spanish covering condominums, houses, hotels, offices and stores.

South American friends tell BWTAS that Uruguay is a bargain holiday destination for Argentinians and Brazilians so a visit to this tower may be within the reach of visitors from Great Britain. Another popular destination in Punta del Este is the hotel-sculpture Casapueblo. If you go there, please let us know.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

A new member writes...

BWTAS are really pleased to hear from Alf in Norwich who has written to us "I have been enjoying your website for free for a couple of years so I enclose a cheque for £10 to salve my conscience and help with funds."

Alf: please consider yourself absolved and now a fully paid up member of BWTAS. One of the last few copies of The Water Towers of East Anglia is on its way to you in the SAE you helpfully provided.

Your generosity makes us think we are worthy of a Paypal donation button on this site. Then again such things bring their own issues. Perhaps that is something to be raised at a committee meeting. As we now have several members in Norwich, it's about time we held a meeting there.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

House in the Clouds treading the boards this summer

BWTAS hears that the iconic water tower, Suffolk's very own House in the Clouds is to feature in the 63rd Aldeburgh Festival  running from June 11 to June 27, 2010.

A recreation of the 'house' part of the water tower cum folly will be combined with film projections to become an installation in Thorpeness as part of The Way to the Sea, an homage to Benjamin Britten and WH Auden's On this Island. The sets are being designed by architect and theatre designer Pippa Nissen who earlier designed the festival opera: Elephant and Castle.

The tower is also set to make an appearence to American audiences soon. BWTAS member Nat Bocking has recently supplied the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art images of the House in the Clouds and the Freston tower for its forthcoming exhibition Folly: The View from Nowhere comprising of hundreds of architectural follies from around the world. The exhibition is being curated by Los Angeles architects Escher Gunewardena and will run at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles from December 6, 2009 to February 29, 2010.

UPDATE 24/6/10

Here is the Guardian review of the work at the Aldeburgh Festival

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Hyperboloid tower along the Silk Road

BWTAS member Clare Johnson has passed along her correspondence with her acquaintance Mark Stevenson of Crouch End.

Hearing of Clare's interest in water towers, Mark sent these images of a hyperboloid steel lattice water tower he encountered in the ancient city of Bukhara in Uzbekistan.

Mark was on a month long trip along the ancient Silk Road timed to  coincide with the solar eclipse in Shanghai in July earlier this year.  As far as he knows, the water tower was built by the Russians in 1927.

Leave it to the indomitable Ferrers, the Pie Master, to do some digging and he will locate it at 39.777891ºN 64.408638ºE and discover that you can climb it.

According to Lonely Planet, for a few pence given to whichever local is guarding the gate that day, you can climb the rickety and rusting stairs and gain fantastic views of the city, especially the ancient fortified palace of the The Ark.

Digging further, Ferrers found an image from 1963 taken by traveller Galen Fry Singer which show pretty conclusively that the original tank has been removed and this tower was converted into a viewing platform. The later Islamic detailing of the window arches in the conversion are a nod to the history and culture of this ancient city.

What is fascinating is that this hyperboloid structure is a Russian invention and the first was designed by engineer V.G. Shukhov in 1896.

The world's first hyperboloid tower was another water tower and this is now in desperate need of preservation today. There is a foundation dedicated to the many works of this remarkable engineer.

1896 tower for All-Russia Exhibition at
Nizhniy Novgorod, capacity 114,000 gallons
Later moved to Polibino and preserved

It isn't the first time that the challenges of water storage have inspired huge breakthroughs in engineering, reinforced concrete being another.

And wrapping these two things up together nicely, in Trent Park, Cockfosters, England, we have a reinforced concrete hyperboloid water tower designed by Edmund Percey and Chief Engineer J M Milne for Severn Trent water.

The hyperboloid structure is probably best known for creating the shape of cooling towers in power stations. The amazing illusion of this geometry is that the members of these structures remain straight and do not curve, but at Cockfosters, twist 120 degrees around their axis.

There are many water towers, bridges and other structures using this technique. Put the term into google and see what else you will find!

I wonder if Winchells or Krispy Kreme doughnuts know of this amazing tower in Ciechanow, Poland. A toroid tank on a hyperboloid lattice. Try saying that with a mouthful of crackers!

Tiptree, Essex: Victorian tower for sale

We're not sure of the sales status of this tower, we find estate agents notoriously unreliable at deleting sold properties (it must be something to do with SEO), but browsing the web for something else as usual, we came across this tower for sale in Tiptree, Essex, the home of the jam makers of the same.

Presented by the Desmond Boyden partnership, offers in excess of £150,000(ex VAT) would land you this lovely octagonal Victorian gem with planning permission to convert it into two live/work units. The steel tank is extant and lined with concrete. Oh and of course, if you buy it, you can automatically become an honorary member of BWTAS.

Contact the agent Graham Newman at Boydens on 01376 570335. Viewing is strictly by appointment.


Tim Oxton contacted BWTAS to pass on the following information:

I passed this water tower yesterday and the For Sale sign (Boydens) was on display.  It was snowing and I wasn't inclined to stop, so I can't tell you any more.  The tower itself looks attractive but the immediate surroundings rather less so.

Boydens may be marketing it for residential use, but another estate agent proposes it for storage or commercial use.

Planning permission was granted for change of use (for either commercial or residential) in November 2007.

We appreciate the update. It seems as if this tower is proving harder to shift than others in the current economic climate. Perhaps it could be had for a very reasonable price by a climbing club or a rope access training facility or even be used as a smokehouse?

Friday, 13 November 2009

Sheer fallacy

It is well understood by many members of BWTAS and the vistors to our art exhibitions that water towers are inspirational objects for artists and photographers but it is a first for us that we find a water tower has inspired work that might need a warning it is NSFW (that's Not Safe For Work). As this work as a postcard is sold in many of the Michigan city of Ypsilanti's finer gift shops, we think it's O.K. but if you dare to scroll down, you'll see what we mean.

See the original image here.

The post card is the work of Michgan based rock photographer Shela Palkoski who is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and who has a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts & a Minor in Art History. She works as a Toolmaker Journeywoman for Ford Motor Company. She also does freelance photography and shoots rock concerts for Real Detroit weekly magazine. Her hobbies include art, music, concerts, traveling and fast cars. She obviously has a wicked sense of humour. Definitely going on the shortlist for the next BWTAS art show.

Shela told blogger Gaye Leonard who writes a terrific water tower fan blog Thirsty in Suburbia:
“I used to live across the street from the water tower and had to walk past it. I figure I’ve had a vision of that image for about five years, and I thought, ‘I’ve gotta do it before someone else does.’”
The image has the city's leaders squirming to respond diplomatically. You better read Gayle's very interesting blog entry for the rest of the story and all the great information about the tower itself.

Gayle is an enthusiastic reader of the BWTAS blog. We're absolutely delighted to find her.

BTW 'sheer fallacy' has nothing to do with the story, it's just the only pun I could think of that said something about legs in tights and a phall....

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Liquid asset: couple to sell their water tower home.

From the Daily Mail, November 9, 2009

When a former hospital in magnificent Staffordshire parkland was being redeveloped, the builders were faced with what they regarded as a massive problem - what to do with something that looked like a folly and reached skyward like, well, a colossal sore thumb.

Perhaps they would have been pleased if the Victorian Gothic tower, which once supplied the hospital in the village of Cheddleton with its water, had simply disappeared. By accident that almost happened.
A demolition vehicle collided with a corner of the Grade II listed building, but fortunately the driver was stopped by a conservation officer who ordered immediate repairs.

Read more:

Balkerne Tower Trust publishes their appraisal of the options for 'Jumbo'.

Balkerne Tower Trust, a registered charity, has announced the completion of an options appraisal for public use of Colchester's 'Jumbo' water tower conducted by Purcell Miller Tritton.

This report was originally commissioned over a year ago. Entirely by coincidence, Jumbo's owner, George Braithwaite, has meantime applied for planning permission to convert Jumbo into flats, a restaurant and office space. Those plans have been criticised by Colchester MP Bob Russell.

Full details of the trust's public access plan to this historic building can now be found on their new website.

On the website you can also watch a video and read thier manifesto, the complete options appraisal (as well as a brief summary), the latest news about Jumbo as it unfolds and much more.

Brian Light, chairman
of the Balkerne Tower Trust, also asks the public to object to the current planning application and support their public access plan for the sake of Colchester's heritage, residents, visitors and tourism.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

BWTAS tour of Coleshill Water Tower

Owners Andrew Tate and Deborah Mills warmly welcomed 11 members of BWTAS on Saturday Octber 3rd 2009 to their home in the Coleshill Water Tower near Amersham, a tower made famous by the Channel 4 programme Grand Designs.

Our members reported "the conversion is beautifully done, the unused external tank remains in place and the modernist extension, although quite large, is hidden from most viewpoints by a grass bank and grass roof, effectively disguising it as one of the nearby covered reservoirs. From any distance, it looks like the original unmodified water tower."

The view from the back garden, the only place you can see tower and extension together.


The view from extension. The vertical scale had a mechanical indicator showing water level in tank.


The view from mid level showing covered reservoirs.


The iew from top bedroom window - in the distance is Canary Wharf and the BT tower.


Andrew and BWTAS chairman Wil Harvey talking in the hall at the tower's base. On the wall an original architect's drawing is reproduced.


The inscription on the front door detailing the history of the tower.

 BWTAS extends its very grateful thanks to Andrew and Deborah for showing us their home.

New proposals for Colchester's 'Jumbo' don't float with MP

The EADT reports that new proposals for conversion of Jumbo, Colchester's magnificent but neglected Victorian water tower, have already been criticised by the town's MP Bob Russell. It is reported that the new plans do not conform to what the town's planning committee had previously established as permissable. The tower was recently upgraded to starred Grade II Listed status. 

Owner George Braithwaite's planning application has finally now appeared on Colchester Borough Council's website. It calls for a change of use and alterations to provide four flats, a restaurant and offices and ancillary buildings and works.

The application number is 091343. It can be seen here. The consultation period expires on 6th November and a decision is expected on 10th December.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Huddersfield L&YR Tower regeneration

BWTAS member David Blackburn tells us that this rather unlovely Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway water tower has managed to survive the many changes to the railways over the years and now looks set to become a community and heritage regeneration project.

It stands close to end of the platform at the busy Huddersfield Station and still has its 'plumbing' intact and visible. This large tank was needed to refill tenders before engines faced the steep climb over (and through) the Pennine hills to Manchester.

It is now earmarked to become the base for the Association of Community Rail Partnerships. EU funding has been awarded and details are being finalised with the aim of starting work before the end of 2009 to convert it to an energy efficient office building.

An unusual feature is that the rear wall of the tower is at least twice the height at the back compared to the front, with an entrance from one of the main streets in the town.

It's good to know that another tower appears to have a long term future. This also help ACoRP be more financially secure by lowering their property outgoings and it will make their offices more accessible by public transport.

A local estate agent's website tells us that "Huddersfield was once a mill town. It has a large amount of Victorian architecture having the highest number of listed buildings than any other city or town in the country.

Huddersfield Railway Station is a lovely old building with colonnades. It has been described as a stately home with trains in it. Outside the station is a statue of Huddersfield born former Prime Minister, Harold Wilson."

picture by David Blackburn

Friday, 25 September 2009

Cammo Tower

hanks to Stuart Goudie for contacting BWTAS about the Cammo Estate water tower near Edinburgh. The abandoned estate and its ruined 17th Century buildings are popular with walkers and a source of inspiration for many photographers, including a lovely atmospheric image by Chris Brown.

Stuart tells us he has heard there are plans to develop the area around the estate. He doesn't know of anything about the later 19th Century tower and wondered if BWTAS can help.

There isn't any mention of this tower in
Barry Barton's book (although its listings focus on the public supply) and the tower is often described as a folly although it was fully functional. It housed a lead lined wooden tank and there is photographic evidence that a windmill adorned the top that drove the pumps to supply Cammo House. One source puts the date of the tower at 1871 but this may be based on the stables nearby built by one of the estate's later owners James Watson.

Scotland's historic register doesn't give a build date but says:

Early 19th century. Circular water tower. 4 stages; string course demarcates each stage; crenallated crown. 4 blocked openings to each stage; ground floor opening to SW doorway.

The water tower supplied water to the main house. It was powered by wind and an early photo shows the tower with its sails (NMRS ED/5576/3). Along with its practical function it is likely that the Water Tower also served an aesthetic purpose: it closes the vista along the path past the stables. The water tower was part of an extensive building project undertaken by James Watson during the early 19th century. He also built the stables to the N of the tower and made alterations to the main house including the addition of a rear wing and a crenellated parapet.



The anonymous blogger "Kaska" on Qype says:

I’ve met very few people that are aware of the odd tale of Edinburgh’s Cammo Estate. Cammo House existed for hundreds of years until its almost complete destruction in 1975.

Creative writers and filmmakers out there will be inspired by Cammo. It requires imagination, because fragments are all that remain of a formerly glamorous country mansion. Aside from all the history though, you can simply enjoy a walk in the fresh air. There are some lovely trees (including Edinburgh’s oldest Ash Tree) and everywhere you go you’ll discover intriguing features, such as the former horse stables, a walled garden and a water tower built in the style of a folly.

Getting to Cammo is fairly straightforward; Take a bus from the West End of Princess Street along Queensferry Road. Get off at Barnton Junction, carry along Queensferry Road and turn left into Cammo Road. The road leads to a path that takes you into the estate.

Cammo House was built by John Menzies in 1693. Each subsequent owner made additions, such as the re-designed grounds and the water canal outside the remains of the house (possibly designed by Robert Adams).

Cammo is now almost completely reclaimed by nature. An organisation called the Friends of Cammo would like to see the estate restored to its former glory, architects and city planners are still debating its future.

It would be good to know what plans there are for the area around the estate. Edinburgh's urban suburbs have slowly encroached the original park but it is a wonderful amenity for them. A planning application for a block of flats adjacent to the park was rejected in 2003 but developers tend to be persistent. Maybe there's a new one afoot?

Contact details

Countryside Ranger Service (Hermitage)
Hermitage of Braid
EH10 6JF
Telephone: 0131 447 7145
Fax: 0131 447 9441
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 9.00am - 5.00pm.

Stuart's travels recently took him to Mannhiem Germany where he also admired the water tower there.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Tower Brewery, Burton

Tower Brewery 1875

Once the water tower for Walsitch Maltings, who supplied malt to the Tomas Salt Brewery, once the second largest brewery in Burton. Abandoned for a number of years, the tower’s broken window in the uppermost floor became a refuge for pigeons. Thus, owner John Mills’ first job was removing several feet of droppings by shoveling it into bags and lowering them down three stories by crane. Happily, the brewery is now pigeon-free, and only the aroma of beer fills the air. Mills brews five regular beers, four rotating seasonals and a number of one-off beers whenever the mood hits him. Try Tower Pale Ale, a golden amber with a small, tight white head. A fruity, tangy nose with baked bread notes introduces a swallow that’s initially malty but fruity, balanced by a citrusy hop character and a short, dry finish. Text from Draftmag

The conversion was awarded a Civic Society Historical Industrial Building restoration plaque which is on the wall outside.

Tower Brewery
The Old Water Tower
Walsitch Maltings
Glensyl Way
Burton Upon Trent
DE14 1LX
Phone 01283 530695
Fax 01283 530695

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Plans for Aldeburgh Water Tower Conversion

Priors Hill Water Tower in Park Road, Aldeburgh was built in 1871 for the benefit of the town by the Garrett family, the Victorian philanthropists who owned the Leiston Works. Disused since the 1980's, Northumbrian Water sold the tower at auction in 2007 for £407,000.

At present brickwork is falling out from the oversailing courses under the tank and extensive preservation work is urgently required to the Grade II listed structure.

BWTAS has had sight of preliminary plans the present owner, a pharmacist, has commissioned for converting the tower into two flats for their children which requires removal of the existing tanks and its internal ironwork supports (the tower's façade does not carry the load of the tank).

Both flats will have ground floor quarters in a one story extension surrounding the base of the tower on all four sides in a minimalist, moderne glass cube. One flat will use the upper portion (from the mid-section up) creating a roof terrace with a new cupola and the lower portion will have double height rooms overlooking the base extension, likely using the extension's roof as a balcony. What may give concern to the architects and the planners is the opening of window apertures in the infills of many of the arch details, most of which will be facing south and west, and the addition of a small rooftop structure altering the shape of the tower when viewed from a distance.

There has been much wonder locally about access to the tower as it presently sits in the middle of a garden but it appears that at the time of construction, Aldeburgh Town Council gave a 15 foot wide easement over the hospital car park for maintenance access, presently unused, which will require some amendment to the car park to enable a new entrance. If that is done, there will only be space for two cars at the base of the water tower for the occupants.

Local residents and neighbours we have spoken to have concerns about the nuisance of what would be a major construction project and the lack of privacy from their sudden visibility to new neighbours and the likely detriment to their already battered property values. Although BWTAS does not take a position on such matters, it is evident from the plans that the architects have been sensitive to these issues and no doubt amendments will be made reflecting expert advice and representations, as is usual in the course of planning applications, which we must stress have not yet been submitted.


Two planning applications have been made to Suffolk Coastal District Council for:




You can search for details of the applications at:

Monday, 14 September 2009

Carshalton Water Tower joins BWTAS

The Carshalton water tower is one of the finest estate towers in existence and thankfully one of the most accessible. The water tower constructed 1719 is unique in that it contains a suite of rooms that serve a range of domestic functions. There is a deep plunge bath with exquisite tiling, a formal saloon and a beautifully proportioned orangery. The remains of a water wheel can be seen in the pump chamber that lifted water into the cistern crowning the tower. It could be considered the equal of Houghton Hall, a 1732 example in Norfolk that supplied the home of Sir Robert Walpole.

The Carshalton Water Tower, Hermitage and Historic Gardens in Surrey are managed by a voluntary charitable trust who would be very grateful to hear from anyone willing to volunteer some time. The tower and gardens can be hired for a wide range of purposes including filming.

BWTAS are pleased to announce that the Friends of Carshalton Water Tower have been granted associate membership of BWTAS.

In practical terms this mean BWTAS will notify the Friends of Carshalton Water Tower of our events and activities before they go public, along with the regular members of BWTAS.

For information about the tower, visit their website or contact the secretary

Julia Gertz

136 West Street,
Surrey SM5 2NR

Telephone: 0208 647 0984

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Amersham Water Tower Visit

BWTAS have organised a visit to the converted water tower at Amersham, Buckinghamshire that was featured on Channel 4's Grand Designs

The tour takes place on Saturday, October 3rd 2009.

There are only 3 places left and
numbers have to be strictly limited to a maximum of 12 people.

Places and further details will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis with priority for BWTAS members.

Please contact Wil Harvey on 01502 478248 or harveys at (for spam prevention, please replace _at_ with @)

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Dorset Water Tower Open Day

This blog has previously highlighted the very detailed history of Dorset's Broadstone water tower. More of its history is on this external site.

News comes to us though that
Blandford Forum Camera Club now occupies the former water tower of Blandford Station. The Dorset Echo reports the water tower will be open on Sunday 13th September 2009 as part of Dorset Architectural Heritage Week. Ironically, BWTAS can't locate a photograph of this building on the web although we can locate a historic image of the station.

According to its website:

BFCC was formed in 1953 and originally consisted of a small group of enthusiasts headed by David Gent, a local dentist.

Meetings were originally held in the back of a shop but as more people joined the group it was necessary to find larger premises. The club moved to an old Band room and, when numbers increased further, to a room at the rear of the Congregational Chapel. In 1969 it became necessary to move yet again and this time it was to an old Cadet Hut made available by the GPO.

In 1981 the land on which the hut was situated was sold and the club was forced yet again to find a new home and this time was offered a derelict, roofless stone building adjacent to the site of the old railway station. This building was formerly the base and pump house of the water tower which supplied water to the steam locomotives on the old Somerset and Dorset railway line.

Work commenced in February 1981, a roof was built over the four walls and windows were glazed and council permission was granted for an extension to be built after which the building included a meeting room, kitchen and toilet facilities.

In 2006 BFCC, with the help of donations and loans, became one of very few camera clubs in the UK to own its own club house.

Another fine Dorset water tower is at Swanage. If you hanker after some images of fine grouting work, there is a slide show of remedial works being carried out.

Water tower enthusiasts would also like the Sutton Poyntz Water Supply Museum managed by Wessex Water inside a working spring source and pumping station.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Southwold Old Water Tower Open Day

Southwold's historic old water tower is occupied by the holiday lettings agency Suffolk Secrets who have announced they are holding an open day on Sunday 30th August 2009 between 11 AM and 3 PM to show off their new extension to the tower. BWTAS members will be warmly welcomed. There will be some light refreshments and an opportunity to meet their staff and see how the new building preserves the beauty of the surrounding common and the 1890 tower. Opportunities to visit water towers are few and far between and so we expect a good turn out to this event. Local members of BWTAS will certainly be dropping by.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Towers of East Anglia Art Exhibition

The Landguard Fort and warm evening sunshine welcomed over sixty people to a private view of the BWTAS sponsored exhibition; Towers of East Anglia.

BWTAS Chairman Wil Harvey (far left) gave our thanks to David Morgan (second from left) and the Landguard Fort Trust for their assistance with the show.

Wil welcomed our distinguished guests; Felixstowe's Mayor Councillor Angela Goodwin and her husband Councillor John Goodwin.

Left: Pastels and photographs of New York City water towers by guest artist Dorothy Koppellman, who has studied water towers in her native USA for nearly 30 years.

Towers, with their visual impact, always inspire feelings of awe and curiosity.

The exhibition shows over 90 works by twenty artists with a common interest in depicting architecture.

Artists exhibiting include Clare Johnson, Mark Beesley, Joan Sandford-Cook, Sandra Rowney, John Barham, Charles Nightingale, Alan Wright, Dorin Elvin, Elle Thompson, Kate Coleman, Michael Norman, Liz Klotz and others.

Most of the works are available for purchase.

Right: An installation by Alfie Sheppard, a recent graduate of Norwich University College of the Arts.

Alfie has lately secured a six month internship with an American sculpture studio.

A wide range of BWTAS merchandise is for sale.

A full catalogue will appear online in due course. Meantime, the exhibition runs until Sunday July 19, 2009.

More Info

Thursday, 9 July 2009

BWTAS profiled in Current Archaeology

BWTAS is very grateful to Chris Catling news editor of Current Archaeology magazine for his page length profile of the society in issue 233 under 'Odd Socs'.

One of our committee is a regular reader of the UK's best selling archaeology magazine and so it was a pleasant surprise to see BWTAS profiled without any prior knowledge.

It's useful to see how we present ourselves reflected in the media and we appreciate the publicity this brings. We're proud to be placed in the company of the "least known and most dedicated" of societies.

This PR break comes after the recent regret that after their enquiry we had to inform Hat Trick, the producers of Have I Got News for You, that we didn't publish our newsletter on paper anymore for them to feature in their television programme.

The respective issue won't be available online for several months. To get your copy please ask your newsagent or go to

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Glimpse of a Gilded Age

Washington Post - United States

Once home to a rebel of the du Pont family,
Nemours Mansion and Gardens in Wilmington,
Delaware has reopened after a three-year
renovation including this 8o foot water tower.

Click Here for Slide Show

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Going for a Burton

A disused concrete water tower at Burton Green in Warwickshire is for sale as freehold by auction on July 1, 2009

If you fancy bidding on this one-of-a-kind property contact or

Details from Coventry Telegraph

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Water tower for sale

Severn Trent Water is disposing of 420 properties over the next 18 months including a water tower next to Manor Cottage in Pebworth, Worcestershire at an auction on July 1 in London.

Selling agent Jason Birch from Kings Sturge Savills (Nottingham), expects the land to go for around £20,000 to £25,000.

He said: “It is big enough for a detached house to go on, but that depends on planning permission.”

BWTAS are waiting for more details and will put them here when we have them.


9 Fletcher Gate
Tel: +44 (0)115 934 8000
Fax: +44 (0)115 934 8001/002

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Water tower turned into veterans' memorial

It seems appropriate on the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings to bring you this story:

Retired US Marine Howard Flexor moved to Dudley, Massachusetts USA two years ago. He settled in a beautiful home with a great view reaching as far as Connecticut. The only problem was the house sat directly across the street from the town's water tower (actually just a raised storage tank as far as we can tell, Ed.)

Howard, a Vietnam veteran, went to the Dudley Water Department and asked their permission to paint a special message on the tower out of his own pocket.

He says he wanted to make sure that veterans were not forgotten. The town agreed because it was a free paint job for the tank which would cost then $3000 otherwise and you can't argue against a case of Dudley Do-right (sorry).

We only wonder, with such a big canvas, why only paint a tiny part of it? We would guess his budget couldn't stretch to employing Hennig Mural Design who specialise in disguising or enhancing metal storage tanks with clever murals. Can we bring this firm to Buncefield?

NECN.COM Video Story

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Foredown Tower Centenary Open Day

If you've been to the Sussex Downs, you may have seen the Foredown Tower Countryside Centre which is England's only water tower-based Camera Obscura. The water tower is 100 years old this year and on August 15th, 2009 it will be open free to the public to celebrate.

Camera Obscura are popular vistor attractions and redundant water towers are ideal for conversion into them. This is one idea BWTAS suggests to tower owners looking to repurpose theirs commercially. Many of our members consider Colchester's 'Jumbo' would be ideal for this but that's another story.

Hove Civic Society website informs us the tower was built in 1909 by J. Parsons & Sons with a 27,500 gallon tank made by Every’s of Lewes. The immense weight of the water and tank was supported by brick walls which are up to 33 inches thick in places. The original ballcock and water depth gauge have been preserved along with lots of the massive pipes that served the tower nearly one hundred years ago. After financial help from Brighton-based American Express and much deliberating, the tower opened in 1991 as the home of one of England’s few operational camera obscuras. Windows and a pitched roof were added above the tank to facilitate the camera which is built into a tower at the very top. It projects a television-like image onto a dish at floor level and can be pointed in any direction from the sea to Worthing to the Devil’s Dyke to Eastbourne.