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Thursday, 26 September 2019

B.W.T.A.S. @ Chelmsford Waterworks

Essex Industrial Heritage Fair: Saturday, October 5th 2019

Chelmsford Corporation Water Works, now Sandford Mill

Chelmsford Corporation purchased the Sandford Mill site (a water powered corn mill) in 1923 for their new waterworks. Water was taken from both the River Chelmer and a borehole, then treated before being pumped to Galleywood reservoir, where it was available to the city's inhabitants. The capacity of the waterworks was expanded in the 1950s with the construction of a new dedicated filter house and various pumping houses and storage tanks. Two million gallons of water a day could be treated at Sandford Mill when it was at it's peak. But by the 1980s, the waterworks at Sandford Mill had become redundant, replaced by the new larger waterworks nearby, that was able to pump more water.

This is the venue for the Essex Industrial Heritage Fair on Saturday, October 5th 2019, and the British Water Tower Appreciation Society will be there!   BWTAS has again teamed up with the local Balkerne Tower Trust in order to have a stand at this event. Entry and parking are both Free!!! The programme for the event includes five talks and there will be around 20 societies with display stands. Directions to Sandford Mill may be found here. The event runs from 10:00am – 4:00 pm.

The BWTAS stand will have our new display boards and our new A3 information leaflets available… We will also have copies of “Water Towers of Britain”, by Society President, Dr. Barry Barton, for sale at £7·50.  Also, Brian Light from Balkerne Tower Trust will have copies of his recently released book on Jumbo — Colchester's iconic water tower, for sale. “It is an excellent publication – a cleverly balanced combination of the academic and the popular.” Dr. D M J Barton.

Pop along to say “Hi” and pick up a copy of our new leaflet and perhaps buy a book or two and solve those Christmas present problems… I'll be there to try to answer any water tower questions that you may have… and judging by the Basildon Fair in 2017 it'll be an informative and enjoyable day.

Looking forward to seeing you there,

‡ Extract from Chelmsford City Museum Sandford Mill: The History

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

New Book: Jumbo — The Water Tower

BWTAS Committee member, Brian Light, has completed his book on Colchester's massive, iconic water tower, that he started writing, back in 2001.

The book, published by the Balkerne Tower Trust, tells the history of the Jumbo water tower, it also relates the story of Jumbo the elephant, describes the water tower era and a brief history of water supply. It is profusely illustrated with old drawings, documents and photographs.

Author — Brian Light with his new book.

Book Launch:

"Jumbo – the Water Tower"
Opening by Sir Bob Russell
Red Lion Books, Colchester
11th September at 6:30 pm

(Details: here)

The launch will be followed by a short talk by the author on the origins of the book and why it is important for everyone concerned with Colchester’s local history and its most prominent landmark. All profits from the sale of the book will go towards a future restoration of Jumbo which preserves its architectural character, allows public access and provides ample historic interpretation of the famous tower.

After this event, the book will be available in Colchester, at Red Lion books, Waterstones and the Visitor Information Centre, price £9·99. Copies will also be available at the joint BWTAS/BTT stand at the Essex Industrial Heritage Fair, in Chelmsford on the 5th October.

Information regarding the Balkern Tower Trust may be found here:


Sunday, 1 September 2019

Return to Tiptree

Another chance for BWTAS members to visit...

The tower before conversion… © Peter Loosley

Members last had the opportunity to visit this tower in Tiptree, back in August 2013: Lots to see at Tiptree… when conversion of this unique tower, was in it's infancy. Now the conversion is complete and owner Jim Underwood has kindly offered us a return visit. The size of group is limited and it is only open to BWTAS members. The visit is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on Sunday 8th September, 2019. If you would like to visit this tower and meet up with fellow water tower enthusiasts, places must be booked, by contacting

Following the visit, it is proposed that we adjourn to the Wilkin & Sons Ltd. Tea Room, just over a mile away, to catch up and chat water towers etc. There is also a splendid museum and visitor centre there…

Tiptree water tower is located on the B1023, Kelvedon Road, just to the north of Tiptree, at TL 88643 17147. For those with a Sat-Nav, the post code is: CO5 0LX. Driving directions may be obtained from Google here. Parking may be found on the industrial area by the tower, as you head out of Tiptree, take the road just past the tower on the same side.

Note: The visit is entirely at your own risk. The owner or BWTAS cannot be held responsible for any accidents.


Note to members:

You should have received an e-mail notification of this visit. If you have not, it's either in your Spam, or we do not hold a current e-mail address for you. If the latter, please e-mail us at regardless of whether you intend to come on this visit, so we can update our list and keep you informed.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

BWTAS Update…

While this blog has been rather quiet of late, there has been a lot of activity going on in the background…  We held our committee meeting in Wenhaston, back in January, to plan the year ahead and following that, a second follow up meeting took place in Halesworth to review progress and further flesh out our programme and advance other projects. This has resulted in rather more work than originally envisaged!

One of the projects being undertaken…

A BWTAS weekend excursion is planned around 'water' — the proposal is to include a walk along the Cromford canal and a visit to the Victorian Papplewick Pumping Station. While in the area, the plan is to take in nearby water towers — not just the public supply towers, but including those at public attractions such as Rufford Abbey or Shipley Hall…   40 potential locations have been investigated! All this has taken rather longer than anticipated and now, may possibly be held over for next year.

A day out for members was also proposed and we are planning to go to Tiptree water tower next month. We last visited in August 2013: Lots to see at Tiptree… when conversion of this 1933, brick water tower (one of the last to be built) had only just commenced. Conversion is now complete and we have been invited back. Members will be getting an e-mail shortly and details will also be posted here too.

The BWTAS display boards were showing their age, so new light weight boards have been designed and produced. Additionally, since the supply of Nat's water tower leaflet has been exhausted, a new A3, BWTAS leaflet has now been designed and printed. The display boards and leaflets had their first public outing on 8th June, at the East of England Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference:

Not only did we bring BWTAS to people's attention, we also bolstered the society's funds by selling copies of Dr. Barry Barton's “Water Towers of Britain”. BWTAS's next public event is at the Essex Industrial Heritage Fair in Chelmsford, on the 5th October. It would be nice to see you there.

Disappointed that a festive Yuletide model water tower had sold out, prompted the thought that perhaps we should produce our own model water tower… After much deliberation, the Victorian "Jumbo" water tower in Colchester was chosen as the most suited to be made into a card model, that could be distributed in kit form. Much work was undertaken by Mark Beesley to produce the Mk. I kit, that was then built by the committee members to prove it's feasibility — the results can be seen in the first image, above. As if that wasn't enough, BWTAS committee member, Brian Light has been writing a book on the history of this tower and is due to be launched next month.


Tuesday, 14 May 2019

A Visit to Delft…

© Photograph Copyright Wil Harvey

When BWTAS Chairman Wil Harvey was visiting the Netherlands, he of course kept his eye open for any interesting water towers. The above tower was spotted in Delft and convieniently it had a plaque on it, informing us that this Watertoren was built in 1895 and contained 600,000 litres (132,000 gallons). It gave the architect as M.A.C. Hartman.

Further investigation located this tower in the center of Delft at 52.01677,4.35112 and it's up for sale for € 675,000! The tower was converted in 2008 to provide a multifunctional, hospitality and conference space of approximately 300 m2 (3,230 sq ft) that may be hired:

The tower 29 m (95 ft.) high and 11 m (36 ft.) in diameter, was commissioned by the municipal water supply company and built by Delft contractor G.B. Luken. One of the most interesting aspects of this tower, is that it contained an Intze 2 type tank, with a double-curved bottom, formed from curved, riveted steel plates.

Diagram of an Intze 2 tank from Wikipedia
By Uwe Barghaan, SVG version by Zirguezi - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

The tank in the Delft tower has a cylindrical shaft in the middle, so that the round penthouse on the tower roof may be accessed by a twisting steel staircase. The load-bearing masonry tower incorporates iron beams and also has some decorative wrought-iron work. The roof is of concrete reinforced by iron I-beams.

In 1908 the tower was given a concrete intermediate floor. A pump house, in the same style as the water tower, was added in 1918–1919 along with an underground reservoir of around 2,000 m3 (440,000 gals.).

While researching this tower, I delved into our archives and found this image of a nearby water tower:

Rijndijk water tower © Copyright Peter Loosely

The above photograph was one from the collection of photographs kindly donated to BWTAS by Peter Loosely (A Water Tower Windfall!!).

This later water tower, stands on the Rijswijk border with Delft, in the hamlet of Het Haantje at 52.02446,4.34603. This tower was constructed in 1911 for the municipality of Hof van Delft (abolished in 1920) for the supply of water to Hof van Delft and part of Rijswijk. The tower was designed by architect N. Biezeveld and is constructed in reinforced concrete. The tower is approximately 29·3 meters (96 feet) high and contains a 200 m3 (44,000 gal.) tank. Beneath the tank we can see the cylindrical shaft in an openwork, tapered support structure. What is not shown in the photograph, is that beneath this, is a square substructure that measures approximately 7·5 by 7·5 m (24½ × 24½ ft.) with a height of 5·5 m (16½ ft.).

The tower is no longer in service and the municipality of Rijswijk granted a permit to convert it into a residential home, in October 2008. The owner elected to only convert the lower substructure, preserving much of the water tower, including pipework. Conversion and renovation started in August 2009.

And finally, yet another water tower in the vicinity:

Image from Google Maps Street View, August 2014

This small iron ‘water tower’ in Rijswijk is located at 52.0405,4.29256. This iron box on legs, originally stood at a greenhouse horticulture company, to provide water to the crops in the greenhouses. Now it is retained as a monument.


Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Saturday, January 19th 2019 @ 10:30 a.m.

BWTAS Planning Meeting !

The BWTAS committee are meeting in January to plan the year ahead and members are most welcome to join us. We will be meeting at the Wenhaston Village Hall Café, that is on the corner of Hall Road & Narrow Way, Wenhaston, IP19 9EQ. Post meeting, we plan to adjourn to the Star Inn (⅓rd mile down the road) for lunch. This is where the society was formed in May 2006. It would be really nice to see members, or if you haven't yet joined, come along and sign up — it's only £5 for life membership and perhaps pick up a mug or book and save P&P. If you cannot make it in person, but have any ideas that you would like us to explore, then please e-mail us at Unfortunately, due to security, it is almost impossible to visit a working water tower.

Wil Harvey