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Sunday, 29 November 2009

A new member writes...

BWTAS are really pleased to hear from Alf in Norwich who has written to us "I have been enjoying your website for free for a couple of years so I enclose a cheque for £10 to salve my conscience and help with funds."

Alf: please consider yourself absolved and now a fully paid up member of BWTAS. One of the last few copies of The Water Towers of East Anglia is on its way to you in the SAE you helpfully provided.

Your generosity makes us think we are worthy of a Paypal donation button on this site. Then again such things bring their own issues. Perhaps that is something to be raised at a committee meeting. As we now have several members in Norwich, it's about time we held a meeting there.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

House in the Clouds treading the boards this summer

BWTAS hears that the iconic water tower, Suffolk's very own House in the Clouds is to feature in the 63rd Aldeburgh Festival  running from June 11 to June 27, 2010.

A recreation of the 'house' part of the water tower cum folly will be combined with film projections to become an installation in Thorpeness as part of The Way to the Sea, an homage to Benjamin Britten and WH Auden's On this Island. The sets are being designed by architect and theatre designer Pippa Nissen who earlier designed the festival opera: Elephant and Castle.

The tower is also set to make an appearence to American audiences soon. BWTAS member Nat Bocking has recently supplied the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art images of the House in the Clouds and the Freston tower for its forthcoming exhibition Folly: The View from Nowhere comprising of hundreds of architectural follies from around the world. The exhibition is being curated by Los Angeles architects Escher Gunewardena and will run at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles from December 6, 2009 to February 29, 2010.

UPDATE 24/6/10

Here is the Guardian review of the work at the Aldeburgh Festival

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Hyperboloid tower along the Silk Road

BWTAS member Clare Johnson has passed along her correspondence with her acquaintance Mark Stevenson of Crouch End.

Hearing of Clare's interest in water towers, Mark sent these images of a hyperboloid steel lattice water tower he encountered in the ancient city of Bukhara in Uzbekistan.

Mark was on a month long trip along the ancient Silk Road timed to  coincide with the solar eclipse in Shanghai in July earlier this year.  As far as he knows, the water tower was built by the Russians in 1927.

Leave it to the indomitable Ferrers, the Pie Master, to do some digging and he will locate it at 39.777891ºN 64.408638ºE and discover that you can climb it.

According to Lonely Planet, for a few pence given to whichever local is guarding the gate that day, you can climb the rickety and rusting stairs and gain fantastic views of the city, especially the ancient fortified palace of the The Ark.

Digging further, Ferrers found an image from 1963 taken by traveller Galen Fry Singer which show pretty conclusively that the original tank has been removed and this tower was converted into a viewing platform. The later Islamic detailing of the window arches in the conversion are a nod to the history and culture of this ancient city.

What is fascinating is that this hyperboloid structure is a Russian invention and the first was designed by engineer V.G. Shukhov in 1896.

The world's first hyperboloid tower was another water tower and this is now in desperate need of preservation today. There is a foundation dedicated to the many works of this remarkable engineer.

1896 tower for All-Russia Exhibition at
Nizhniy Novgorod, capacity 114,000 gallons
Later moved to Polibino and preserved

It isn't the first time that the challenges of water storage have inspired huge breakthroughs in engineering, reinforced concrete being another.

And wrapping these two things up together nicely, in Trent Park, Cockfosters, England, we have a reinforced concrete hyperboloid water tower designed by Edmund Percey and Chief Engineer J M Milne for Severn Trent water.

The hyperboloid structure is probably best known for creating the shape of cooling towers in power stations. The amazing illusion of this geometry is that the members of these structures remain straight and do not curve, but at Cockfosters, twist 120 degrees around their axis.

There are many water towers, bridges and other structures using this technique. Put the term into google and see what else you will find!

I wonder if Winchells or Krispy Kreme doughnuts know of this amazing tower in Ciechanow, Poland. A toroid tank on a hyperboloid lattice. Try saying that with a mouthful of crackers!

Tiptree, Essex: Victorian tower for sale

We're not sure of the sales status of this tower, we find estate agents notoriously unreliable at deleting sold properties (it must be something to do with SEO), but browsing the web for something else as usual, we came across this tower for sale in Tiptree, Essex, the home of the jam makers of the same.

Presented by the Desmond Boyden partnership, offers in excess of £150,000(ex VAT) would land you this lovely octagonal Victorian gem with planning permission to convert it into two live/work units. The steel tank is extant and lined with concrete. Oh and of course, if you buy it, you can automatically become an honorary member of BWTAS.

Contact the agent Graham Newman at Boydens on 01376 570335. Viewing is strictly by appointment.


Tim Oxton contacted BWTAS to pass on the following information:

I passed this water tower yesterday and the For Sale sign (Boydens) was on display.  It was snowing and I wasn't inclined to stop, so I can't tell you any more.  The tower itself looks attractive but the immediate surroundings rather less so.

Boydens may be marketing it for residential use, but another estate agent proposes it for storage or commercial use.

Planning permission was granted for change of use (for either commercial or residential) in November 2007.

We appreciate the update. It seems as if this tower is proving harder to shift than others in the current economic climate. Perhaps it could be had for a very reasonable price by a climbing club or a rope access training facility or even be used as a smokehouse?

Friday, 13 November 2009

Sheer fallacy

It is well understood by many members of BWTAS and the vistors to our art exhibitions that water towers are inspirational objects for artists and photographers but it is a first for us that we find a water tower has inspired work that might need a warning it is NSFW (that's Not Safe For Work). As this work as a postcard is sold in many of the Michigan city of Ypsilanti's finer gift shops, we think it's O.K. but if you dare to scroll down, you'll see what we mean.

See the original image here.

The post card is the work of Michgan based rock photographer Shela Palkoski who is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and who has a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts & a Minor in Art History. She works as a Toolmaker Journeywoman for Ford Motor Company. She also does freelance photography and shoots rock concerts for Real Detroit weekly magazine. Her hobbies include art, music, concerts, traveling and fast cars. She obviously has a wicked sense of humour. Definitely going on the shortlist for the next BWTAS art show.

Shela told blogger Gaye Leonard who writes a terrific water tower fan blog Thirsty in Suburbia:
“I used to live across the street from the water tower and had to walk past it. I figure I’ve had a vision of that image for about five years, and I thought, ‘I’ve gotta do it before someone else does.’”
The image has the city's leaders squirming to respond diplomatically. You better read Gayle's very interesting blog entry for the rest of the story and all the great information about the tower itself.

Gayle is an enthusiastic reader of the BWTAS blog. We're absolutely delighted to find her.

BTW 'sheer fallacy' has nothing to do with the story, it's just the only pun I could think of that said something about legs in tights and a phall....

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Liquid asset: couple to sell their water tower home.

From the Daily Mail, November 9, 2009

When a former hospital in magnificent Staffordshire parkland was being redeveloped, the builders were faced with what they regarded as a massive problem - what to do with something that looked like a folly and reached skyward like, well, a colossal sore thumb.

Perhaps they would have been pleased if the Victorian Gothic tower, which once supplied the hospital in the village of Cheddleton with its water, had simply disappeared. By accident that almost happened.
A demolition vehicle collided with a corner of the Grade II listed building, but fortunately the driver was stopped by a conservation officer who ordered immediate repairs.

Read more:

Balkerne Tower Trust publishes their appraisal of the options for 'Jumbo'.

Balkerne Tower Trust, a registered charity, has announced the completion of an options appraisal for public use of Colchester's 'Jumbo' water tower conducted by Purcell Miller Tritton.

This report was originally commissioned over a year ago. Entirely by coincidence, Jumbo's owner, George Braithwaite, has meantime applied for planning permission to convert Jumbo into flats, a restaurant and office space. Those plans have been criticised by Colchester MP Bob Russell.

Full details of the trust's public access plan to this historic building can now be found on their new website.

On the website you can also watch a video and read thier manifesto, the complete options appraisal (as well as a brief summary), the latest news about Jumbo as it unfolds and much more.

Brian Light, chairman
of the Balkerne Tower Trust, also asks the public to object to the current planning application and support their public access plan for the sake of Colchester's heritage, residents, visitors and tourism.