The few BWTAS members that made the effort to visit the Tiptree water tower last month, were well rewarded. While the tower is well on it's way to becoming a dwelling, this is not going to be yet another home that has just had a previous use. This is a water tower, and the conversion to a dwelling is a celebration of this, with much being done to preserve as much as possible. Obviously the vertical ladders have had to be replaced with a staircase, but this is a steel staircase, in keeping with the industrial nature of the building. In fact, much of the conversion is dictated by current building regulations for a dwelling - for example the brick walls cannot be left exposed but have to be insulated and plastered. The large water pipes either side of the door, together with their huge valve gear by BLAKEBOROUGH, are being retained. As we ascended the tower we came upon more retained pipework - the overflow and washout pipes. The tank was unusual in that rather than having two equal compartments of 50% capacity, only the lower portion of the tank was partitioned - hence the single overflow. It must have meant that drain down was done during periods of low consumption, if supply was to be maintained. Girders showing the makers name, Frodingham Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. added to the history of this building, as we head up towards the tank. On the floor beneath the tank are portions of the riveted steel access shaft, that once past through the centre of the tank. This has the Scottish steel company, Colville's mark on it.
When we reached the tank, we learnt that in the late 1950's or early 1960's the tank began to leak and the remedial action was to weld a wire mesh to the tank, to enable gunite to be sprayed on, to form a waterproof coating. Up here in the "loft" where regulations are not so harsh, a feature has been made by removing some of the concrete to expose the mesh and the original tank wall. This was not the only time there was a loss of water - in April 2003, telemetry failure caused the tank to overflow and water pooled just yards from an electricity sub-station! Fire crew had to pump the water away.
A very interesting visit, a big thank you to Jim Underwood for allowing BWTAS to visit his tower and to Graham Brewer for taking time out to show us around.