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Sunday, 28 September 2008

BWTAS at Earls Colne

On Saturday 27th September, members of BWTAS showed up in force, well, seven of them, at the Earls Colne Heritage Museum at the former Atlas Works to admire their water tower. The museum is small but well stocked with artefacts about the history of the works and Earls Colne. Now we know who made all the brackets, wheels and shafts for thousands of belt-driven mills and factories around the world as well as the hand-powered grain milling machines still in use in many under-developed countries. Our thanks to Brian Alderman for opening especially for us. They don't know if the water tower was made on site. It is made of sand-cast iron plates in an unusual 3' x 4' size but it is more likely they were made by one of the specialst foundries on the Tyne. The museum is well worth a visit and there are lots of other things to do and see nearby, including a railway museum and a rather ironic town pump dedicated in thanks to the absence of cholera in the town.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Jumbo at 125

Saturday, September 27th, 2008: Brian Light shows a photograph taken September 27th, 1883 at the dedication of the Balkerne Water Tower 'Jumbo' to members of BWTAS attending Brian's guided tour of Colchester's historic sites.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Happy Birthday Jumbo!

We're sorry you've been so neglected and ignored in recent years but your many fans wish you many happy returns for your 125th birthday on Saturday 27th September. 

BWTAS will be sure to remember the occasion if no one else does when it gives a tour of historic Colchester starting at 1.30 PM on the Saturday, starting at your feet.

Best Wishes,


Friday, 12 September 2008

Colchester Zoo

The Bocking family took in a visit to Colchester Zoo last week.

In the zoo they noticed this structure and the notice affixed to it.

It's good to see that the zoo have taken the opportunity to make the most of every educational opportunity.

BWTAS event: Atlas Works and historic Colchester, September 27, 2008

BWTAS members Brian Light and Brian Alderman have kindly given their time to provide a day out for water tower and history enthusiasts. 

Firstly the Earls Colne Heritage Museum in Earls Colne in Essex will be opened specially for BWTAS at 11 AM on Saturday 27th September 2008. 

The museum in housed in the water tower of the former Atlas Works, a foundry making agricultural machinery. 

Address: The Old Water Tower, Reuben Walk, Earls Colne, Colchester, Essex, CO6 2SZ

Later in the afternoon BWTAS will meet at 1.30 PM outside 'Jumbo' the water tower on Balkerne Hill, Colchester, for a guided tour of the historic centre by Brian Light, co-author of the guide available for £2 at local tourist information centres and an expert on the history of Colchester's water systems.

These events are free but a donation to ECHM would be gratefully apppreciated as would buying a beer or two for your guide afterwards!


To get to 'Jumbo' from Earls Colne by car: take the A1124 southn towards A12 then take A133 to Colchester, then turn right at roundabout up Balkerne Hill A134. 

Go up Balkerne Hill to the large roundabout, do a complete circuit and down Balkerne Hill. Take the slip road to St Mary's multi-storey car park on the left. Walk over Balkerne Hill on the footbridge, go through the Balkerne Gate, approach Jumbo but turn right towards Church St. 

However, if coming direct to Colchester: come via A12, then down Ipswich Rd A1232, then right along Cowdray Ave A133, then up Balkerne Hill as above.


For lunch in Colchester, the Old Court House (labelled on map) near Jumbo is a pleasant cafe which does decent food.


To travel from the Atlas Works to Jumbo by public transport, you can take the 88 bus. Please go to Traveline or Google Maps and enter the postcode CO6 2SZ as the start and CO3 3AA as the destination. 

Travel time is about 45 minutes with five minutes walking at each end.

Cyclists might like to know that Earls Colne is 6.8 miles from Marks Tey rail station where there is ample car parking on weekends.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

BWTAS meeting report

BWTAS met at the Star, Wenhaston on Tuesday, 9th September. Attending was Nat Bocking, Wilson Harvey (chair), new member Clare Johnson, Brian Light, Andy Norris and Ferrers Young. 

The Treasurer reported that finances remain healthy with an excess of £6oo in the bank and £20 in dues held by Nat are to be deposited.

The General Secretary reported membership stands at 119 with three new members since the last meeting, recruited by the BWTAS blog.

Talk at NIAS: Nat will give a brief talk on the history of water towers and Ferrers will talk about Norwich water towers and more specifically, those that have been recently demolished. After the talk, BWTAS members will repair to the pub next door if there is any desire from the audience to continue discussions as the room time is limited.

Colchester Tour: Wilson Harvey reported that his letters to George Braithwaite, the owner of Jumbo, have gone unanswered. It was agreed that Brian Light would contact Brian Alderman and arrange a visit to the Atlas Works at Earls Colne followed by a guided tour of historic Colchester (or vice-versa) including a stop outside Jumbo. This was tentatively scheduled for September 27th or October 25th depending on availability of the Atlas Works.

Henham Steam Rally: although very successful at recruiting members and gleaning information, all of the ctte. had various schedule conflicts for the weekend of 20/21 September so it was decided to skip the presence of BWTAS at the show this year. It was noted that sometime in the darkness of winter, BWTAS would update the exhibition map, information panels and photos.

Art Show: It was proposed that BWTAS hold an art exhibition in 2009, as 2008 was a rest from the very successful ones held in 2006 and 2007. The proposal was thoroughly seconded by Clare Johnson, an artist herself. Several venues (commercially sensitive) were proposed and members have been assigned to make enquires on their availability. Members thought it would be appropriate to widen the exhibition remit to include other structures so that the exhibition might present artists' responses to the built environment, working title; 'water towers and friends'. There could also be a talks and workshops combined with the exhibition. Members agreed to put word out on the grapevine to artists showing interest since the last shows and prepare a press release for Green Pebble as soon as a date can be set.

Following business, Clare Johnson showed her images of water towers taken on a recent trip to the USA in Chicago, Detroit, Gary and Ann Arbour. Ferrers showed his most recent images and details of several new finds not in the Barton database including an archive image of the Hunstanton WT being demolished.

No date set for the next meeting but to be annouced as soon as visit to Atlas Works confirmed.