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Wednesday 6 January 2010

Soup to nuts

A breaking news story:

The Lynn News reports that English Heritage (the quango with the most clout in these matters) has decided not to list the Campbell's soup tower (a water tower) that has dominated the skyline for fifty years in the town and is a object of local affection, as water towers often are. This paves the way for site developer Tesco to demolish it.

While BWTAS takes a neutral stance on preservation issues, it does take issue with the criteria used to determine "architectural merit" as all the studies of water towers we've seen published, including those by English Heritage, say knowledge of the subject is scant, which of course is our raison d'├¬tre. 

According to the paper's letters page, there's no shortage of support for the tower and even some serious proposals for alternative use, such as a climbing wall facility, which other water towers have been successfully converted to.

If you want to raise a stink, perhaps start with contacting the Lynn News news desk; or leave a comment on their Facebook site or here. Even better, write to your MP and ask them to ask the Secretary of State for Culture to reconsider.

Campbell's Tower will be demolished

Campbell's Tower - doomed
Campbell's Tower - doomed

Published Date: 06 January 2010
THE last ditch bid to save the landmark Campbell's Tower at Lynn has crumbled.
English Heritage and the Secretary of State for Culture have decided against granting listed status to the tower, leaving the site's new owners, Tesco, free to demolish it and change the town's skyline forever.

Lynn Civic Society admits it is disappointed by the ruling but has said that it wants to work with the supermarket giant to make sure the history of the soup factory and tower is catalogued and features in the new development.

The bid to save the 50-year-old tower was backed by conservationists and by Lynn readers who took part in an on-line poll. But this week English Heritage decided it is not important enough to save.

It said in a statement: "While we are sensitive that there is a lot of local affection for the former soup factory, and especially the water tower, our role is to objectively assess the claims made for listing.
We must do this in the context of its national significance and special historical and architectural interest.

"Unfortunately, this building does not merit adding to the list."

Elizabeth James, the Civic Society member who masterminded the listing application, said: "Yes, we are disappointed. We didn't know whether or not we would be successful but thought we should at least make the attempt.

"The warm response of the public to the publicity had made clear the affection in which the tower is held and which, indeed, is recognised by EH's own researchers.

"Its report is certainly not unsympathetic to the building and agrees that the tower is undoubtedly of local significance. But too many other elements militated against listing."

She said that Tesco's corporate affairs manager and planning adviser Nick Gellatly has agreed to display historical information about the tower in a new building and would like to hear from people who worked on the factory during its construction so that reminiscences can be compiled and kept.

He has asked to meet the Civic Society again early in the New Year.


Sandra Rowney said...

Just a note to ask whether there is likely to be a water towers art exhibition this year that I could join? If so I'll paint this local tower as a priority..Sandra

Nat Bocking said...

Our AGM is on next Weds and we'll raise that question then. However, I'd suggest you never defer painting a water tower! We have a number of artists who could contribute to an exhibition if we were invited to curate one at short notice.