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Friday, 15 August 2008

Essex Water Towers For Sale

Not to be confused with the concrete tower which is the subject of phone mast protests, the 1889 water tower(s) at Colne Road, Halsted in Essex have been on the market for some time at £599,950. Rightmove listing here

They may have been sold by now but at time of posting were still for sale. If you fancy a tower with four bedrooms, 3 baths and and another water tower as a home/SME office, (is this a BOGOF offer?) then get onto Wright & Co at Sawbridgeworth.

A one-bedroom Victorian water tower in Braintree is also on the market with Connells for around £200,000

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Heritage Open Days

Heritage Open Days this year are on 11-14th September.

This is a Govt. scheme (basically achieved by covering the cost of liability insurance) by which property owners can open places not normally open to the public although lots of regular attractions also take part and most have free entrance during the Heritage Days.

For water tower enthusiasts, the Earls Colne Heritage Museum will be open on 13 & 14 September.

The ECHM tell us although there isn't a water tower there, at the Museum of Power, Langford , there is a strong link with water and one of the enormous pump engines is still in situ and worth a viewing. The pump is one of several that was part of the water supply system to Southend. The museum has a wealth of items of interest, with free entry on Heritage Days.

image copyright Brian Alderman

Sunday, 10 August 2008

High Acres Phone Mast Protest

This site is not the place for a debate over radiation safety but residents of Stourbridge in the West Midlands are calling for their local water tower to be demolished over health fears from the mobile phone masts on the water tower.

50% of the number of news alerts BWTAS gets on water towers turn out to be protests about phone masts. Stourbridge is not the only case. Residents of Halstead near Colchester, Essex have raised similar concerns.

The High Acres and Halstead water towers are not exceptional examples of reinforced concrete construction but their straightforward and honest appearance has been greatly disfigured by the accretion of masts and antennae. We think most members of BWTAS would object to putting phone masts on water towers on those grounds alone.

Dudley Metropolitan Council says:

"The water tower at High Acres on which the antenna are attached, and the land on which the water tower stands, are privately owned.

"All antenna currently on there are permitted developments. Any company wanting to install such equipment must provide a certificate to confirm emissions from their equipment is within guidelines set out by the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

"We have carried out checks at the High Acres water tower and all the equipment meets the legal planning requirements. However, any additional equipment would need planning permission."

These water towers look similar to the Octel water tower on Anglesey which so far has escaped such vandalism, perhaps because of the location amidst stunning coastal scenery, although that does depend on which direction you look.

It does seem as if tower owners can put masts on towers with very little objection (and derive substantial income from doing so). But if planning permission is required to put masts on water towers, perhaps more vigorous objections on aesthetic grounds in the first place could be effective.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

More German towers

In response to the posting on the Bocking's visit to Kevelaer on one of Ryanair's penny flights; BWTAS member David Blackburn sent in his pictures of a tower in Andernach (close to Koblenz so also accessible by Ryanair) which has an interesting past.

David is off soon to his Derbyshire home's twin-town of Sindlefingen in Germany where there are a couple of decent towers and he hopes to meet there Guenther Bosch, the dedicated enthusiast behind the Baden Wurtemburg water towers website.

As said here before, BWTAS is British in name but not British in outlook. We exist for people in Britain who are interested in water towers. Many German towers were built by illustrious Britons such as William Lindley.

It would be great to locate some examples in continental Europe of his work.

Tilbury Radar Tower

Thanks to Julieanne Savage for posting on Geograph and Flickr this striking image of a radar tower disguised as a water tower. That's a first. Water towers are often disguised as other things but this is the first structure we've heard of impersonating one.

Julieanne openly admits she supports trespassing on
military ranges. Hmm, BWTAS can't condone that but sometimes that kind of civil disobedience has turned up information in the public interest to know and, as she says, she intends only to document things "
before it's completely destroyed by over-zealous developers doing crap things like turning churches into sales offices, and historical parks into shitey quagmires."

Her caption said: "A short walk from Coalhouse Fort on the banks of the Thames is this derelict radar control tower, built deliberately disguised as a water tower to fool the Luftwaffe hovering over the Thames. The lower level of the tower is accessible to visitors, but warning signs tell of the dangers of climbing to the upper level. The tower is now derelict, although once contained a barrack room and a control room. There is much debris here including abandoned jetties and the remains of an electric light battery."

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The Great Weeze Wheeze

Yesterday 06/08/08 Nat Bocking and his family flew to Germany because when Ryanair had a reverse price sale in June they found could fly to Niederrhein Airport (the former RAF Laarbruch) located at Weeze in Northern Germany for one penny each way. Yes, that is including the taxes.

There's a 7.15 AM flight out in the morning from Stansted and a 8.00 PM (7.00 PM GMT) flight back in the evening. The 50 minute flight time and a low volume of passengers at Weeze allows enough time for a day out in any of the surrounding towns and villages along the Dutch/German border. The landscape along the Rhine here is very flat and is dotted with wind turbines and water towers.

Ryanair advertise the route as Düsseldorf (Weeze) but Düsseldorf is over 70 km away but that's another issue.

In the town of Kevelaer, 10 km from the airport and accessible by a frequent and reliable shuttle bus service, they found this water tower in a residential area, just a few minutes walk from the centre of town and the train station. Built 1905, it is now converted into offices for the local water, sewerage and bus company. There is a delightful fountain (not shown) outside the front door.

It's not normally open to visitors but the staff were very pleased to hear of BWTAS and after some conversation they understood we had a genuine interest. They allowed us in to see some of the offices and a conference room, all recently refurbished, inside the tower but the tank room for now is off limits.

The plaque on the door says the tower is 54m high, has a capacity of 450 cubic metres and the tank was constructed on the 'Intze' system.

From the top of the 15m gantry of the 'Tyrannosaurus Rex' slide at the Irrland amusement park 7 km away, (also served by the same airport shuttle) the town's vista is dominated by the wasserturm and the church steeple.

More than 800,000 pilgrims, mostly from Germany and the Netherlands, visit a shrine to the Virgin Mary in Kevelaer every year. It has many other fine buildings and plenty of restaurants and good museums and good rail connections with half-hourly service between Krefeld and Düsseldorf. It is also twinned with Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, UK.

Thanks to the German Watertower Society for the information that Kevelaer had a water tower.

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