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Friday, 25 September 2009

Cammo Tower

hanks to Stuart Goudie for contacting BWTAS about the Cammo Estate water tower near Edinburgh. The abandoned estate and its ruined 17th Century buildings are popular with walkers and a source of inspiration for many photographers, including a lovely atmospheric image by Chris Brown.

Stuart tells us he has heard there are plans to develop the area around the estate. He doesn't know of anything about the later 19th Century tower and wondered if BWTAS can help.

There isn't any mention of this tower in
Barry Barton's book (although its listings focus on the public supply) and the tower is often described as a folly although it was fully functional. It housed a lead lined wooden tank and there is photographic evidence that a windmill adorned the top that drove the pumps to supply Cammo House. One source puts the date of the tower at 1871 but this may be based on the stables nearby built by one of the estate's later owners James Watson.

Scotland's historic register doesn't give a build date but says:

Early 19th century. Circular water tower. 4 stages; string course demarcates each stage; crenallated crown. 4 blocked openings to each stage; ground floor opening to SW doorway.

The water tower supplied water to the main house. It was powered by wind and an early photo shows the tower with its sails (NMRS ED/5576/3). Along with its practical function it is likely that the Water Tower also served an aesthetic purpose: it closes the vista along the path past the stables. The water tower was part of an extensive building project undertaken by James Watson during the early 19th century. He also built the stables to the N of the tower and made alterations to the main house including the addition of a rear wing and a crenellated parapet.



The anonymous blogger "Kaska" on Qype says:

I’ve met very few people that are aware of the odd tale of Edinburgh’s Cammo Estate. Cammo House existed for hundreds of years until its almost complete destruction in 1975.

Creative writers and filmmakers out there will be inspired by Cammo. It requires imagination, because fragments are all that remain of a formerly glamorous country mansion. Aside from all the history though, you can simply enjoy a walk in the fresh air. There are some lovely trees (including Edinburgh’s oldest Ash Tree) and everywhere you go you’ll discover intriguing features, such as the former horse stables, a walled garden and a water tower built in the style of a folly.

Getting to Cammo is fairly straightforward; Take a bus from the West End of Princess Street along Queensferry Road. Get off at Barnton Junction, carry along Queensferry Road and turn left into Cammo Road. The road leads to a path that takes you into the estate.

Cammo House was built by John Menzies in 1693. Each subsequent owner made additions, such as the re-designed grounds and the water canal outside the remains of the house (possibly designed by Robert Adams).

Cammo is now almost completely reclaimed by nature. An organisation called the Friends of Cammo would like to see the estate restored to its former glory, architects and city planners are still debating its future.

It would be good to know what plans there are for the area around the estate. Edinburgh's urban suburbs have slowly encroached the original park but it is a wonderful amenity for them. A planning application for a block of flats adjacent to the park was rejected in 2003 but developers tend to be persistent. Maybe there's a new one afoot?

Contact details

Countryside Ranger Service (Hermitage)
Hermitage of Braid
EH10 6JF
Telephone: 0131 447 7145
Fax: 0131 447 9441
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 9.00am - 5.00pm.

Stuart's travels recently took him to Mannhiem Germany where he also admired the water tower there.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Tower Brewery, Burton

Tower Brewery 1875

Once the water tower for Walsitch Maltings, who supplied malt to the Tomas Salt Brewery, once the second largest brewery in Burton. Abandoned for a number of years, the tower’s broken window in the uppermost floor became a refuge for pigeons. Thus, owner John Mills’ first job was removing several feet of droppings by shoveling it into bags and lowering them down three stories by crane. Happily, the brewery is now pigeon-free, and only the aroma of beer fills the air. Mills brews five regular beers, four rotating seasonals and a number of one-off beers whenever the mood hits him. Try Tower Pale Ale, a golden amber with a small, tight white head. A fruity, tangy nose with baked bread notes introduces a swallow that’s initially malty but fruity, balanced by a citrusy hop character and a short, dry finish. Text from Draftmag

The conversion was awarded a Civic Society Historical Industrial Building restoration plaque which is on the wall outside.

Tower Brewery
The Old Water Tower
Walsitch Maltings
Glensyl Way
Burton Upon Trent
DE14 1LX
Phone 01283 530695
Fax 01283 530695

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Plans for Aldeburgh Water Tower Conversion

Priors Hill Water Tower in Park Road, Aldeburgh was built in 1871 for the benefit of the town by the Garrett family, the Victorian philanthropists who owned the Leiston Works. Disused since the 1980's, Northumbrian Water sold the tower at auction in 2007 for £407,000.

At present brickwork is falling out from the oversailing courses under the tank and extensive preservation work is urgently required to the Grade II listed structure.

BWTAS has had sight of preliminary plans the present owner, a pharmacist, has commissioned for converting the tower into two flats for their children which requires removal of the existing tanks and its internal ironwork supports (the tower's façade does not carry the load of the tank).

Both flats will have ground floor quarters in a one story extension surrounding the base of the tower on all four sides in a minimalist, moderne glass cube. One flat will use the upper portion (from the mid-section up) creating a roof terrace with a new cupola and the lower portion will have double height rooms overlooking the base extension, likely using the extension's roof as a balcony. What may give concern to the architects and the planners is the opening of window apertures in the infills of many of the arch details, most of which will be facing south and west, and the addition of a small rooftop structure altering the shape of the tower when viewed from a distance.

There has been much wonder locally about access to the tower as it presently sits in the middle of a garden but it appears that at the time of construction, Aldeburgh Town Council gave a 15 foot wide easement over the hospital car park for maintenance access, presently unused, which will require some amendment to the car park to enable a new entrance. If that is done, there will only be space for two cars at the base of the water tower for the occupants.

Local residents and neighbours we have spoken to have concerns about the nuisance of what would be a major construction project and the lack of privacy from their sudden visibility to new neighbours and the likely detriment to their already battered property values. Although BWTAS does not take a position on such matters, it is evident from the plans that the architects have been sensitive to these issues and no doubt amendments will be made reflecting expert advice and representations, as is usual in the course of planning applications, which we must stress have not yet been submitted.


Two planning applications have been made to Suffolk Coastal District Council for:




You can search for details of the applications at:

Monday, 14 September 2009

Carshalton Water Tower joins BWTAS

The Carshalton water tower is one of the finest estate towers in existence and thankfully one of the most accessible. The water tower constructed 1719 is unique in that it contains a suite of rooms that serve a range of domestic functions. There is a deep plunge bath with exquisite tiling, a formal saloon and a beautifully proportioned orangery. The remains of a water wheel can be seen in the pump chamber that lifted water into the cistern crowning the tower. It could be considered the equal of Houghton Hall, a 1732 example in Norfolk that supplied the home of Sir Robert Walpole.

The Carshalton Water Tower, Hermitage and Historic Gardens in Surrey are managed by a voluntary charitable trust who would be very grateful to hear from anyone willing to volunteer some time. The tower and gardens can be hired for a wide range of purposes including filming.

BWTAS are pleased to announce that the Friends of Carshalton Water Tower have been granted associate membership of BWTAS.

In practical terms this mean BWTAS will notify the Friends of Carshalton Water Tower of our events and activities before they go public, along with the regular members of BWTAS.

For information about the tower, visit their website or contact the secretary

Julia Gertz

136 West Street,
Surrey SM5 2NR

Telephone: 0208 647 0984

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Amersham Water Tower Visit

BWTAS have organised a visit to the converted water tower at Amersham, Buckinghamshire that was featured on Channel 4's Grand Designs

The tour takes place on Saturday, October 3rd 2009.

There are only 3 places left and
numbers have to be strictly limited to a maximum of 12 people.

Places and further details will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis with priority for BWTAS members.

Please contact Wil Harvey on 01502 478248 or harveys at (for spam prevention, please replace _at_ with @)

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Dorset Water Tower Open Day

This blog has previously highlighted the very detailed history of Dorset's Broadstone water tower. More of its history is on this external site.

News comes to us though that
Blandford Forum Camera Club now occupies the former water tower of Blandford Station. The Dorset Echo reports the water tower will be open on Sunday 13th September 2009 as part of Dorset Architectural Heritage Week. Ironically, BWTAS can't locate a photograph of this building on the web although we can locate a historic image of the station.

According to its website:

BFCC was formed in 1953 and originally consisted of a small group of enthusiasts headed by David Gent, a local dentist.

Meetings were originally held in the back of a shop but as more people joined the group it was necessary to find larger premises. The club moved to an old Band room and, when numbers increased further, to a room at the rear of the Congregational Chapel. In 1969 it became necessary to move yet again and this time it was to an old Cadet Hut made available by the GPO.

In 1981 the land on which the hut was situated was sold and the club was forced yet again to find a new home and this time was offered a derelict, roofless stone building adjacent to the site of the old railway station. This building was formerly the base and pump house of the water tower which supplied water to the steam locomotives on the old Somerset and Dorset railway line.

Work commenced in February 1981, a roof was built over the four walls and windows were glazed and council permission was granted for an extension to be built after which the building included a meeting room, kitchen and toilet facilities.

In 2006 BFCC, with the help of donations and loans, became one of very few camera clubs in the UK to own its own club house.

Another fine Dorset water tower is at Swanage. If you hanker after some images of fine grouting work, there is a slide show of remedial works being carried out.

Water tower enthusiasts would also like the Sutton Poyntz Water Supply Museum managed by Wessex Water inside a working spring source and pumping station.