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Monday, 15 October 2012

Newton le Willows, Merseyside (1904-1979)

Newton le Willows was the world's largest water tower at its construction in 1904 and the second water tower in the UK to be built from reinforced concrete and the first of that kind for public supply. 

Designed by Reed & Waring, Consulting Engineers, it was constructed by Cubitts & Co. at a cost of £6,000 for Newton in Makerfield Urban District Council. The tank, supported on a trellis-work of concrete legs, was 72 feet in diameter and 12 foot deep, with the roof 82 feet above the ground (117 feet above its foundation) and had a small central turret. The structure leaked when filled and had to be lined on several occasions. When built, the floor was 5” thick, while the walls tapered from 6” to 5”. An additional 3” of concrete was added to the floor as early as 1940. The tower came into use in 1906, with a steam engine operating a bucket type pump. In 1933 this was replaced by two 64½ horse power Sulzer electrical impeller type pumps that raised water from a 200 foot deep well into the tower. The tower underwent repairs in 1910, 1933 and 1962; it was no longer being used in 1977. Although it was a listed building, North West Water Authority got permission to demolish it largely because it was structurally unsound and would cost something in excess of £50,000 to repair.
Located by the M6 motorway, North of Newton le Willows, in Southworth Road Waterworks at Grid Ref. SJ 59900 95675. Capacity 300,000 gallons.

This tower was immortalised by Bernd and Hilla Becher in 1966 – Plate 206 in their book “Wasserturm”. In 1953, a new borehole was constructed about a mile west of the tower with a KSB submersible pump capable of supplying 23,000 gallons per hour direct into the mains was introduced providing an additional supply of approximately 400,000 gallons per day. The Southworth Road Works had a capacity of between 750,000 and 800,000 gallons per day in 1955.
More recollections and photographs of the tower are in the history forum at Recently a local resident has contacted BWTAS asking for more information about the tower.  What we know is here or has been linked to but if you know anything about the tower, please get in touch or use the comments.

image courtesy of D Hull

1 comment:

Pie Master said...

Additional information on this great water tower may be found in the Vulcan Foundry works magazine at:

Thanks to Graeme Pilkington of The Vulcan Foundry Newton-le-Willows