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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

History Repeating Itself…

© Photograph Copyright Peter Loosely

The above picture has the note: "Water tower construction — Nigeria (tower collapsed when filled with water)". Another picture here and here.

I came across this photograph, that I think was probably taken in the 1980s, when scanning some of the vast collection of photographs donated to BWTAS by Peter Loosely (A Water Tower Winfal!!). This reminded me of a similar collapse that happened here in the UK, back in the 1900s in Witney, Oxfordshire:

Copy of 1904 Postcard sent in by BWTAS member Keith Taylor

The tower was built by Witney council, at it's water works in 1903, at a cost of £6,000. A few months after the tower was operational, the cast iron panels burst. The postcard has on the reverse, a poem that appeared in the Witney Gazette, February 27th 1904:

"The Bursting of the tank"
Water tower,
Tank on top,
Filled with water,
Went off pop.

Sudden strain,
Sides bent,
Consequently
Big rent.

Losing water,
Quite a crock,
To the Council,
Quite a shock.

Great sensation,
Council run,
And people too,
To see the fun (?)

Poor little Lamb,
With names below,
So proudly raised,
Dishonoured so.

"It's not our fault,"
Perhaps they'll say,
But who will have
To pay, pay, pay?

Following the collapse, a new tank was installed but that suffered a similar fate in 1905:

Copy of 1905 Postcard sent in by BWTAS member Keith Taylor

This second postcard has on the back, a hand written comment: "Gone again. Looks a wreck doesn't it". The post mark is 22nd July 1905.

When the tower was built, it was reported that it required over 90,000 bricks and it's capacity was 80,000 gallons. It is interesting to note that the capacity is cited in "Return as to Water Undertakings in England and Wales." Return to an Order of The House of Commons, 24 November 1910, as only 60,0000 gallons — presumably, it was decided to be less ambitious and a smaller capacity tank was installed, with subsequent reduced lateral pressures to cope with. The tower was supplied from a deep well and pumping station at Apley Barn. The water tower was never able to supply enough water for the growing needs of the town, it served until it became redundant with the opening of the Worsham waterworks, which we believe was in 1937. The tower was then demolished around 1938. It stood on what was then known as Union Hill, at O.S. Grid Ref. SP 34471 10231.

Ferrers