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Monday 28 December 2009

Landmark Lendal Tower up for sale

The Lendal Tower in the city of York is up for sale. Previously described in this blog, according to the Yorkshire Post the 700 year old tower is on the market for £650,000 in a distress sale of the assets of colourful property speculator David Hattersley.

The particulars available from Carter Jonas include the tower and several buildings and cottages.

From the Yorkshire Post:

Seven hundred years of history

Lendal Tower has stood next to the River Ouse since about 1300. It was built to help defend the city and housed a great iron chain that could be pulled across the river to the Barker Tower opposite. This gave protection in times of trouble and enabled tolls to be levied on river traffic. In 1677, the tower was leased for 500 years to the York Waterworks company established by Henry Whistler. It became the city's first waterworks with a horse- powered pump supplying the water via pipes made from hollowed out tree trunks.

After Mr Whistler died the concern was sold to Col William Thornton of Cattal and later to Jerome Dring in 1779 for £7,000 with shares held by John Smeaton, designer of the Eddystone Lighthouse. Mr Smeaton helped improve the steam engine at the waterworks, which in 1836 was given its own dedicated engine house. Lendal Tower's tank was also removed in the mid-1800s lowering the building by 10ft, and railway architect George Townsend Andrews added the medieval, crenellated roof. It was then used as stores and offices for the waterworks company that eventually became part of Yorkshire Water.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Stanbridge Road, Leighton Buzzard (1896)

This photograph of the Victorian water tower, that stood to the south of Stanbridge Road, at about SP 935 247, was kindly sent to me by Bedford Borough Council after I found details of this tower on their web site. The tower was about a hundred feet high and was demolished in the 1950's. The official guide to Leighton Buzzard of 1910 noted: "The council are the owners of the waterworks and provide a constant supply of pure and wholesome water, which is provided free of cost for domestic purposes. The water is obtained from a well over 200 feet deep, bored into the lower greensand, and is capable of yielding a supply of 164,000 gallons per day. The latest analysis made by an eminent public analyst states that the water is "simply perfect" and "is excellent water for public supply"".

There was another water tower about about 400 feet away, to the east at RAF Stanbridge. This too has beeen taken down. If anyone has any further information on either tower, please leave a comment.

Saturday 19 December 2009

Whose Horton's hearings?

The fate of an abandoned circa 1912-24 water tower at the former Horton Asylum in Epsom remains in doubt after a meeting of the local council's planning committee on 6th December 2009. The committee voted to recommend rejection of the London and Quadrant Housing Trust's proposal to redevelop the tower as the lift shaft for a new-build thirteen story block of flats.

download the plans

The housing trust's proposal also provided four two-bedroom apartments next to the existing tower, which would be repaired and refurbished.

According to the application: The water tower is constructed of yellow gault brick. It measures a maximum of 7.3m by 9.9m in plan and is 39m high.

The proposal is to insert floors into the main and largest shaft in the building and in a former flue shaft, to add a stair/lift core to one side of the tower and erect a four storey extension in order to provide four two-bed maisonettes.

The two lowest maisonettes would have two storeys each on the lower four floors and the two above would occupy four storeys each of the remaining eight storeys.

The existing spiral stair, which is to be blocked off between dwellings, would provide the internal link between the various floors of a dwelling. The new staircase is to be the fire escape and also leads to the dwelling entrances. The lift would be a ‘fire fighting’ type.

The applicants state the proposed lift and staircase is required because of the need for access and escape in the case of a fire.

The four storey extension at the base of the tower is shown with a flat roof a maximum of 11.8m high.

Externally, the existing tower windows are adjusted and enlarged and additional windows are provided to each new residential floor. The rotten pitched roof it removed to form a roof terrace and a small flat roofed conservatory directly accessed from the existing spiral staircase. The existing brick work will be cleared and the tower will receive a rendered plinth for two storeys to disguise previous workshop abatements.

The new lift and stair shaft would have a steel structure clad in a self coloured rendered finish.

Six parking spaces would be provided with vehicular access from a road in the adjoining open market housing under construction.

Top image lifted from Jason Rogers Flickr page.

The reasons given for refusal are the effect on adjacent dwellings and the effect on the appearance of the existing tower. Horton water tower is not listed but it is supposed to be retained because of its character and townscape importance.

The actual decision to refuse or to permit will be taken in public by the councillors on the Planning Committee later.

But the councils actions have angered local residents who are urging the council either to demolish or preserve the water tower, if the application is turned down by the Planning Committee.

According to the Epsom Guardian: Kate Battrick (a prominent stylist) who lives behind the tower, said: “They have to either demolish it or put on a proper preservation order and take responsibility for it. They can’t leave it like this. While we welcome the findings in the report, it does not address that Epsom Council has failed the residents in Livingstone Park, showing a lack of care and responsibility.”

More info on Horton Asylum can be found on websites detailing the history of the cluster of asylums in Epsom and Ewell: History of the Epsom Hospitals and history of County Asylums.

According to the Liberal Democrat held council website:

When Horton Chapel and Horton Water Tower were saved from demolition during the building of the Livingstone Park estate in Epsom, local residents were consulted about its future. That first meeting was held five years ago!

For a variety of reasons, there has been little progress since then and most recently regeneration of both buildings appears to have succumbed to the economic downturn.

Meanwhile the nearby Grade II listed St. Ebbas water tower (left) with its integral chimney is being converted to become a power station for a similar asylum redevelopment where its planning persmission requires 20% of the site's energy to be from renewable sources. In this instance that could be from a woodchip burner.

You can follow this all too familiar sounding planning saga from here: Public Meeting on Horton Chapel and Water Tower

BWTAS would be grateful for updates from anyone informed on the situation.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Water tower tea cosy

Here at BWTAS we're somewhat mystified as to why, perhaps someone will explain, but we came across this neat film of crochet artist Robyn Love with the assistance of the ad agency  TAXI transforming a New York City water tower (one of those Rosenwach wooden ones) with a pencil tea-cosy as some sort of stunt for the Designers & Art Directors Awards in 2008. We love it, whatever it is.

Thursday 3 December 2009

L'Auberge Hotel in Punta del Este, Uruguay

"More than five decades old, the famous water tower of L'Auberge rises, majestic, amidst the tall pines, and is a silent witness of the evolution of the hotel, the tea room and all the Parque del Golf neighborhood..." so says the website of this first class hotel in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

When BWTAS saw these photos, the inspiration from the great houses and estates of Britain was obvious. This place is reminiscent of Surrey but with better beaches and weather and fewer frightfully, awfully, awfully types.

You can view some panoramic images from the top of the tower which is open to the public. There are rooms in the tower as well as suites and chalets in the grounds. Many tourist guides say that the afternoon tea at the hotel is a national institution. 

Even more interesting perhaps is the architect behind the tower who is recognised in his own country but not in the English speaking world. The water tower was designed in 1947 to be the focus of a resort development for the wealthy by Arturo J. Dubourg [1912- 2003], who must have been a swell guy, notching up over 300 major projects to his credit as well as being a tennis champion and a successful racing driver for Grey Rock, the name of one of his houses and a Peugeot car dealership. There are copious references to his work on the web in Spanish covering condominums, houses, hotels, offices and stores.

South American friends tell BWTAS that Uruguay is a bargain holiday destination for Argentinians and Brazilians so a visit to this tower may be within the reach of visitors from Great Britain. Another popular destination in Punta del Este is the hotel-sculpture Casapueblo. If you go there, please let us know.