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Thursday 23 December 2010

Settle Station Water Tower (1876)

BWTAS members Mark & Pat Rand, have undertaken an exciting project with their recent purchase of the Water Tower at Settle Station, that they intend to restore and convert into a home for themselves. The grade II listed building was built by the Midland Railway in 1876, and is the only surviving water tower on the Settle-Carlisle line, that once had eight water towers. Interestingly, the tower has once before been a home, but for horses: In May 1939, with war threatening, they built four stables inside the tower - we know this because the masons and joiners obligingly left a note - found in a rusty tobacco tin, concealed in a wall behind a newly inserted beam, recording the names of the men who built them. What is exciting about this project is, that as well as converting the tower into a dwelling, Mark and Pat intend to restore it to ‘as built’ by the Midland Railway, with the original colours on each tank panel of (from the middle outwards) Denby Pottery cream, Venetian red and Brunswick green. To assist them, they have a microfiche of the original plans (courtesy of Network Rail) signed by Samuel Waite Johnson in 1874, who was the Midland Railway's locomotive superintendent when the line was opened and approved the tower plans - water towers were the responsibility of the locomotive department. The tower has survived largely intact and is in good condition, however Mark is keen to get in touch with anybody who has experience with this type of tower. A problem which he is currently concerned about, is insulation of the tank base. Presently the tower’s ‘roof’ is made of 1” thick cast iron - just about as prefect a thermal radiator as you could imagine. They plan to insulate it on the outside (i.e. on the floor of the tank) and are wary of condensation below the tank, should they get it wrong. If you can offer any advice regarding this project, please contact Mark at

Mark has set up a web site: to record the restoration and conversion of this water tower.

The tower is located at SD 818 635 and had a capacity of 43,000 gallons. Click on the photographs above and below for a larger image.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Look down on your landlord...

From the Scotsman

Victorian water tower for rent - owners will live in the garden

Published Date: 
09 November 2010
IT'S one of the more unusual tenancies on the Edinburgh property market and has earned real estate plaudits from Britain to America.
Now a B-listed Victorian water tower in Dalkeith - thought to be the oldest of its kind in Scotland - is to become one of the most sought-after rental homes in the Lothians.

Standing 110ft tall, the landmark two-bedroom conversion boasts panoramic
 views of the city, Forth Valley, the Pentlands and Lammermuir hills.

It has scooped a clutch of coveted accolades since renovations were completed in 1990, among them the Sunday Times "Best conversion of an industrial building" and heritage award for "Best architectural conversion", as well as the National Trust's "Best conversion" award. It has also earned notable air time in Britain and America on TV shows such as 80 Best Extreme Homes of the World and Lloyd Grossman's Through The Keyhole.

In the 1950s, 70 years after it was built, (in 1879) the tower was deemed unable to meet the demands of water supply and closed. The passion project of architect and restaurateur Gerry Goldmyre, the property is divided over eight floors connected by a wrought iron spiral staircase, with the top floors opening out into a spacious studio with pitched ceiling.

The property can be leased for £1000 per month, and the only possible drawback is that the landlords, who say they would be choosy about who will take over their dream home, have set up home in the shadow of the landmark.

"It's far more important to get the right person - someone who appreciates what it is," said Mr Goldmyre, twice winner of BBC's Masterchef competition.

"A suitable tenant would be someone who enjoys peace, quiet, and excellent neighbours. No-one else lives within earshot apart from my wife and I. It would also be suited to someone who works from home as the spaces are conducive to architects or computer consultants among other professions - someone who cherishes living in a quirky piece of history and a grade B listed building."

Asked if it was a wrench to leave a property he had poured his heart and soul into, he replied: "It's massive. If we weren't moving to accommodation in our garden it would have been impossible."

Mr Goldmyre and his wife Susan lived in the water tower for two decades but in May moved into a £200,000 eco-conscious "safari lodge" in the garden of the structure. 


Scotland's register of historic places has it listed as Esbank Road Water Tower, Grid Ref NT 32735 66996  a polychrome brick octagonal tower built 1879 for the Dalkeith Town Council by James Leslie, engineer of the Edinburgh Water Company.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Old Postcards

The international collectible trading site often has many postcards of water towers for sale. Here is a selection found recently of British water towers.

The Barbourne Water Tower was built as part of the water works in 1770. Water was taken from the Severn and pumped through the tower and along wooden pipes into a central city supply near the Trinity. It became redundant when a new waterworks was built in the 1800's. It was converted into dwellings for a time but was unfortunately demolished in the 1960's. Today the foundations are still visible at the rear of Gheluvelt Park.

Information from Worcester City Museum

Information from London Borough of Croydon
Addington Reservoir on the southern side of the Hills was built in 1888 and the Valve House was initially open to the public with refreshments being served from the ground floor and a residence above. Unfortunately an outbreak of Typhoid in 1937 was traced to the reservoir and the cafe was quickly closed and the area fenced off.

A video of the pumping engines on Youtube.

Croydon was a market town twelve miles South of London (now a London Borough of some 300,000 folk) that expanded rapidly in the 1880s as a London dormitory. The old town from where Croydon's water supply was drawn was so unsanitary that typhoid outbreaks were common when the water level dropped so in January 1885 Croydon Corporation started to build a new well outside the town at Addington on the back slope of the North Downs. Here a well 200 feet deep gathered water from an area of 11 square miles and the pumping station pumped the water to a reservoir in Addington Hills. Two beam engines were installed along with five Cornish boilers to provide steam at 100 psi. The pumps operated with any major fault until 1974 when the station was demolished and replaced by electric submersible pumps.

According to the contractors, the demolition of the iconic York University Water Tower was a lot more complicated than first envisaged.

An Edwardian-era photo of the Lendal Tower which is featured elsewhere on BWTAS

Littlestone-on-Sea water tower was built in 1890 by Henry T. Tubbs to supply his properties in Littlestone, including the Golf Club and his proposed housing development. Tubbs wanted to turn Littlestone into a major resort, and embarked on an ambitious building programme, including the Marine Parade and Grand Hotel. His plans for a pier were not realised, however, and it was eventually built at Eastbourne instead.

Unfortunately the water supply from the tower was unsuitable, because it contained too much sea water. In 1902 the Littlestone and District Water Company built a tower at Dungeness to supply all of New Romney, Littlestone, Greatstone and Lydd. The tower at Littlestone fell into disuse, but now serves as a residence.

Info from New Romney Tour

Saturday 9 October 2010

West Bar picnic

We are organising a social get-together for BWTAS members on Saturday October 9th at Thorpeness, on the Suffolk Coast: a picnic (or, if the weather is bad, lunch in the café or pub), followed by a guided tour of West Bar water tower by kind permission of John Smith. Thorpeness is well-endowed with towers: the famous ‘House-in-the-Clouds’, a nearby windmill which once pumped water to it, and the magnificent brick-built West Bar supported on an arch over the road. All are within a few minutes walk. Meet at 12:00 the café by the lake (postcode IP16 4NW, or click here for google map) - you can’t miss it, Thorpeness is a small village. There is a car park just South of here, on the East side of the road. Following the social we shall have a tour at 2pm. Note, this is John’s home and therefore the group size will need to be limited to 10 or so.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Alcatraz Island (1941)

BWTAS member, David Blackburn, has sent in these photographs of the water tower on the Alcatraz Island, taken from a tourist boat by a friend (click on images to reveal full size). The island has had many uses during its history, but it was during the period when it was being used as a federal prison, that the water tower was built in 1940/41. The tower consists of steel tank of 208,710 gallons (250,650 U.S. gallons) supported by six columns secured to concrete footings. The structure is 93 feet tall and is the only elevated fresh water storage facility on the island. The location is 37 degrees, 49 minutes, 34.18 seconds North, 122 degrees, 25 minutes and 19.56 seconds West.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Water Tower Development Diss-regarded

The Diss Mercury reports the Diss water tower plans reported here have been withdrawn.

Applicant AWG Land Holdings had submitted its second application to change the landmark 192 tower in Louie's Lane into two maisonettes.

But the plans, which would have also seen the construction five homes on the site, were withdrawn before a South Norfolk Council planning meeting last week.

The scheme had been recommended for refusal by officers because of the cramped design, lack of parking spaces, and impact on neighbours of the “overbearing” development.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Water tower that makes its own rain!

Water towers are necessary parts of the landscape, but they aren’t often thought of as positive features of the towns they’re in. This water tower design was created by French firm Atelier Ramdam Architects for Latina, Italy; it is as much a public space as it is a water storage facility. Meant to act as a center for ecological and water management issues, the dream-like “Castle in the Sky” would both blend with the environment and enhance its surroundings.
The Castle in the Sky design consists of a ground-level park and pond, a mirror-clad shaft, and a large platform atop the shaft. Coating the central tower in reflective material makes it almost disappear, enabling the structure to be a part of the landscape without dominating it.
One of the most striking features of the Castle in the Sky is the fact that it makes its own rain. The tower uses the pond at the bottom of the structure as its reservoir. Water is pulled up through the tower, then vaporized on the rooftop platform, which doubles as a recreational space. The precipitation falls on the rooftop park as well as the ground-level park, cooling and hydrating the vegetation and visitors in the immediate area.
Vegetation at the ground level helps to filter the water after it rains down and before it runs back into the reservoir. The entire structure can be used for educational purposes or simply as a unique and beautiful gathering space for the entire town.

Wednesday 16 June 2010

The power of pencil and paint...

This is not exactly a water tower subject but posted as an example of something BWTAS understands: the power structures have in our physical and emotional landscapes and the influence artists have on our experience of this.

From the EDP 21/5/10

New weapons have been unveiled in the fight to restore and save Great Yarmouth's dilapidated Vauxhall Bridge - a sketch pad and artist's palette.

Yarmouth-based industrial landscape artist Katarzyna Coleman has been called in to sketch and then paint the 19th century bridge to help raise the profile of a campaign to breathe fresh into the gateway of the town.

Ms Coleman is sketching the bridge from the comfort of the neighbouring Seafood Restaurant, which is owned by bridge campaigner Miriam Kikis.

Mrs Kikis is hoping that grants can be found to restore the Fairbarn box girder bridge, but fears that the possibility of it being knocked down remains an outside option.

Once Ms Coleman has produced her set of Vauxhall bridge paintings in several months' time, Ms Kikis hopes she can use prints of them to use as cards to hand out to customers to promote her campaign.

It is also hoped that Ms Coleman's creation will end up in Yarmouth Library - prompting visitors to wonder what will happen if the bride is lost forever.

Ms Coleman said: “The bridge is a beautiful structure, although at the moment it is not pretty to look at. It is part of Yarmouth's unique industrial landscape and I am glad I can help Miriam.”

A major feasibility study is to be launched in to the bridge's future by Norfolk County Council, which hopes to seek outside funding from agencies such as the lottery grants. Urban regeneration company 1st East is supporting the study.

Image of Vauxhall Bridge by Pete Sturman found on Flickr.

Scan of original cutting 

Tuesday 25 May 2010

BWTAS event: Carshalton Water Tower Visit

Images have been removed from this posting

BWTAS members are planning to meet at Carshalton Water Tower on Saturday 26th June, 12.00 midday. The entry fee has been discounted to £1.
CarshaltonWater Tower is a unique Grade II listed early 18th century garden building sited in the grounds of Carshalton House in Surrey.  In addition to the Water Tower, there is the surrounding garden including the Hermitage and Folly Bridge.

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. The tower and gardens are often hired for a wide range of purposes including filming.

Friends of Carshalton Water Tower have been granted associate membership of BWTAS.

For information about the friends,
 contact the secretary

Julia Gertz
136 West Street,
Surrey SM5 2NR
Telephone: 0208 647 0984

Thursday 1 April 2010

A new Water Tower for Melton Mowbray

Following the successful campaign to get Melton Mowbray pies "Protected Geographical Indication" (PGI) status, the town is now to follow the Americans with a themed water tower. Inspired by the Peachoid water tower at Gaffney, they wanted a pork pie water tower! The design is quite traditional up to the tank: the supporting legs will be constructed off site - and then erected, while the service shaft will be cast in sections and then craned into position. Shuttering will then be placed upon the shaft and legs, before the hot-water concrete is poured - believed to be the first time this new waterproof hot-water concrete has been used for a water tower. Innovation does not stop there: Due to increasingly cold winters, the ever present risk of the water freezing has been reduced by floating a "Jelly" like blanket on the surface of the water. Not only does this provide an insulating layer, retaining heat, it also provides a sterile barrier between the treated water and air. The consulting engineers, Ebenezer Associates, have provided an artist’s impression:
© Copyright 2010, Ebenezer Associates

Sunday 7 February 2010

Tower of Bubble

Water towers are pretty simple right? A tank supplied by gravity or a pump, so what possibly could go wrong? Cornishman Denzil Bark relates...

Cornishman in Africa : Tower of Bubble.

Tuesday 2 February 2010


1/12/11 We're very sorry but all the BWTAS merchandise has now sold out. If we get 20 people to reserve the next edition, we can put another batch in production.

This is the official and extremely limited edition BWTAS mug.

Concrete conversion in Cambridgeshire

Seen in the Cambs Times*

Historic Disused Water Tower In Fenland Village Could Be Converted To Luxury 3 Bed Home
13:39 - 01 February 2010
Disused water tower at Welney
Disused water tower at Welney
By John Elworthy

AN historic Fenland landmark - a disused concrete and steel water tower in the centre of Welney- could become a luxury three bedroom house.

The tower, built in the 1930s, has been bought by a businessman from Girton who paid £11,750 for it at an auction last year- more than double the expected sale price.

Stephen Drury, of GSM Ltd, has applied to West Norfolk Council for permission to convert the tower which he says has "clearly become an eyesore due to its dilapidated condition".

Artist's impression of the proposed elevations of water tower at Welney
But he says the tower, decommissioned in the mid 1990s, "is an historical piece of concrete work with significance" and he says water towers do not seem to attract the same hostility as radio masts, pylons and wind turbines.

Mr Drury says the overall design rationale "is one of honest conversion and correct choice of materials. Internal planning accepts the segmental nature of the space and uses its convenient module to produce internal spaces that work well".

The external framework will remain unaltered which ensures "the conversion doesn't simply mask the building and allows others to identify with its past use."

The existing concrete legs of the tower will remain visible and the emphasis will be to produce a design that has "a light and open feel to the area below the tank".

Mr Drury says the upper level will retain the concrete hand railing system as an historical note, and the level will be capped with a weathered zinc roof and cedar cladding to the walls.

"Positive feedback has been received from English Heritage on the proposal," he says.

On the ground floor will be a cloak room; n open plan kitchen and dining room on the first floor with a first floor mezzanine lounge; a second floor of shower room, bedroom, and the main bedroom at tank level. On the upper level will be a family room and terrace. 

BWTAS comment:

No doubt this proposal conversion has taken a leaf from the home of Jan Moreels and his much admired conversion of a concrete tower outside Antwerp. 


*note: we have pasted the content of the Cambs Times here in its entirety because of the increasing frequency that links become broken when newspapers do not keep their stories online for more than a few months. If you are the copyright holder and you object to this "fair use" please contact BWTAS and it will be removed. Nat Bocking, Gen. Sec. BWTAS.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

No business like snow business...

The freeze that has gripped Britain has dominated the media for the last four weeks and so can't be ignored by BWTAS. Our chairman Wil Harvey kindly sent in this winter scene from Southwold.

The practical problems of freezing are a concern to water tower engineers. Usually, such a large mass of water doesn't freeze entirely and the outlets are under the surface of any ice formed but on older towers with pumping engines underneath them, the designers would vent the smokestack or provide bleed pipes through the tank to utilise waste heat to prevent freezing, the Round House in Perth being an example. The main problem is the freezing of the pipework and this is why most towers that are supported on legged structures will have a central column enclosing the pipes and the stairway, as evident above.

Water tower volunteer killed by train

BWTAS expresses its sympathies to the friends and family of Mr Graves who although unknown to us was apparently a dedicated volunteer at Carlshalton Water Tower:

Croydon Guardian

Commuter killed after falling in front of train at Carshalton Beeches station

By Julia Kennard

A man killed in a freak accident may have been suffering from an epileptic fit when he collapsed on train tracks and was struck by a high-speed service. Philip Graves, 52, from Carshalton, died after being hit by the train on Sunday January 3 at 8.18pm at Carshalton Beeches station.
Mr Graves, who worked at Croydon Land Registry, had suffered from epilepsy according to his work colleagues and is believed to have been having from a fit when he was struck by the 8.09pm Sutton to Streatham Southern service.
A witness, who did not want to be named, was collecting train tickets from outside the station when he heard the impact of the collision.
He said: “A young lad came running up the side steps saying he thought someone had been hit by the train.
“I ran down and I guess naively, in the heat of the moment, expected to see someone injured, with a broken arm perhaps, or that just needed some help.
“The boy saw the next train was not due for 20 minutes, so he dialled 999, but the fast train came through within seconds.
“You couldn’t have much worse luck; to have a fit on a station and then fall onto the tracks, it was a tragic accident."
Neighbours of Mr Graves said he used to volunteer with the Royal British Legion and help raise funds for the upkeep of Carshalton Water Tower, a Grade II listed early 18th century garden building.
His father Stanley died last year; his mother Joan is in a nursing home and his sister is believed to live in Southampton.
Retired Jack and Jeanette Short, who lived next door to Mr Graves, said he would be missed.
Mr Short, 65, said: “He was involved in the poppy collection for the British Legion as his father also used to take an active interest - he was a former Red Cap with the Royal Military Police.
“His mother also used to be chairwoman of the local branch.”
Carshalton Water Tower secretary Julia Gertz said Mr Graves was a “valuable asset and quite a character” and would be “greatly missed.”
Terry McHale, line manager at Croydon Land Registry facilities department, said Mr Graves had worked for the Registry for about 25 years and was well-liked among his many colleagues.
He said: “He was one of the millions of people that don’t get noticed, but was a dilligent worker, who performed his duties quite religiously. He was an ordinary person, but one that just got on with it, did not make a fuss and did a thorough job.
“His death has been a big shock, particularly given the circumstances of his life.”
Police are not treating his death as suspicious.
A file is being prepared for the coroner.
Did you know Mr Graves? Leave a tribute by calling Julia Kennard on 0208 330 9541 or email