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Sunday, 28 October 2018

Footit Peek, Guernsey (1890s)

© Photograph Copyright Dr Carmen Wheatley

Located at N 49.479359° W 2.528773°, in the top corner of the St Clair vinery1 meadows, on Delancey Hill. This is the only decorated Victorian water tower in Guernsey! Built by Gervase Footit Peek, founder of the Guernsey Press (builder of most of the 19th century vineries in the North part of the island) it is believed that the water tower was built in the 1890s.

The tower was intended to supply the vinery, but it may well also have been used for various households nearby. However, there are an abundance of private wells in the area, as there once were in the nearby Park.

The tower is in a field adjoining Dr Wheatley’s garden — once the home of Footit Peek — and part of the property. With guidance from Guernsey architectural historian, John McCormack, an expert in Channel Islands walls and houses, Dr Wheatley has had the south and east sides restored. The obscuring lime render on the East side has been chiselled away to reveal alternating bands of Cobo Bay pink granite and grey Guernsey granite. The cast iron tank was sandblasted clean and painted in various shades of historic Farrow and Ball off white paints.

© Photograph Copyright Dr Carmen Wheatley

The water source for this tower is not directly beneath it, but from a water reservoir far down the steep hill, below an escarpment, at a place called Waters Rocque, which is at a considerable distance from the vinery. Thus the Tower and area must contain a veritable underground marvel of Victorian hydraulic engineering!!

The Delancey Conservation Committee would like to have this unique water tower registered by Guernsey planners, as a local industrial architectural Monument — there is nothing else like this on Guernsey in this genre. The St Clair Vinery is a Conservation Area — it is an ecological, green and productive space.

1. The term vinery has been used to describe Guernsey's many acres of glasshouses, since the growing industry began in the latter half of the 19th century with production of grapes, melons, figs, peaches and other exotic fruit for the Victorian dinner table.

Information kindly supplied by:

Dr Carmen Wheatley
Delancey Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Dunkeswell, Devon (1989)

© Photograph Copyright Brian Light

The above photograph was sent to me by fellow BWTAS committee member, Brian Light, while on holiday. Brian thought this was a rather unusual water tower, looking more like a grain silo, however the sinage clearly indicated that it was a water tower. This water tower is indeed unusual, as like many, it has two tanks, but unusually in this instance, they are located one above the other, in a 'double decker' arrangement. Normally a tower will contain two tanks at the same level, that usually work in tandem. This enables one to be drained down for cleaning, while still maintaining supply from the other, during less demanding periods. This 120,000 gallon tower, built in 1989 stands at O.S. Grid Ref. ST 13440 05850.

Two other towers in Britain were also known to share this oddity, of having 'double decker' tanks:— The 510,000 gallon Priesthill tower in Glasgow, built in 1950, it had a 450,000 gallon tank, 22 feet above ground level and a second 60,000 gallon tank supported on a 3 × 4 array of columns on top of the lower tank, giving it an elevation of 52 feet above ground. The tower was demolished in the late 1990s — it stood at O.S. Grid Ref. NS 52962 60313. The other tower, was Ormskirk's Victoria Tower, built in 1897, by the Rural District of Lathom and Burscough. The square plan tower built of sandstone supports a lower tank of 80,000 gallons, approximately 62 feet high with, a top water level of 242 feet above ordnance datum. This is surmounted by a smaller tank on a square sandstone tower of 17,000 gallons, approximately 99 feet high with a top water level of 283 feet above ordnance datum. The tower became redundant when the new tower at Scarth Hill was built. Due to the rapid deterioration of the structure, the tower was demolished in the early 1980s — it stood at O.S. Grid Ref. SD 42379 08612.

The practice of having multiple tanks stacked vertically, is much more common in other European countries — such as the Sternschanzen tower in Hamburg, Germany, featured previously in this blog.


Wednesday, 1 August 2018

History Repeating Itself…

© Photograph Copyright Peter Loosely

The above picture has the note: "Water tower construction — Nigeria (tower collapsed when filled with water)". Another picture here and here.

I came across this photograph, that I think was probably taken in the 1980s, when scanning some of the vast collection of photographs donated to BWTAS by Peter Loosely (A Water Tower Windfall!!). This reminded me of a similar collapse that happened here in the UK, back in the 1900s in Witney, Oxfordshire:

Copy of 1904 Postcard sent in by BWTAS member Keith Taylor

The tower was built by Witney council, at it's water works in 1903, at a cost of £6,000. A few months after the tower was operational, the cast iron panels burst. The postcard has on the reverse, a poem that appeared in the Witney Gazette, February 27th 1904:

"The Bursting of the tank"
Water tower,
Tank on top,
Filled with water,
Went off pop.

Sudden strain,
Sides bent,
Big rent.

Losing water,
Quite a crock,
To the Council,
Quite a shock.

Great sensation,
Council run,
And people too,
To see the fun (?)

Poor little Lamb,
With names below,
So proudly raised,
Dishonoured so.

"It's not our fault,"
Perhaps they'll say,
But who will have
To pay, pay, pay?

Following the collapse, a new tank was installed but that suffered a similar fate in 1905:

Copy of 1905 Postcard sent in by BWTAS member Keith Taylor

This second postcard has on the back, a hand written comment: "Gone again. Looks a wreck doesn't it". The post mark is 22nd July 1905.

When the tower was built, it was reported that it required over 90,000 bricks and it's capacity was 80,000 gallons. It is interesting to note that the capacity is cited in "Return as to Water Undertakings in England and Wales." Return to an Order of The House of Commons, 24 November 1910, as only 60,0000 gallons — presumably, it was decided to be less ambitious and a smaller capacity tank was installed, with subsequent reduced lateral pressures to cope with. The tower was supplied from a deep well and pumping station at Apley Barn. The water tower was never able to supply enough water for the growing needs of the town, it served until it became redundant with the opening of the Worsham waterworks, which we believe was in 1937. The tower was then demolished around 1938. It stood on what was then known as Union Hill, at O.S. Grid Ref. SP 34471 10231.