Ten Iconic Water Towers in The UKPosted on December 1, 2014
Water towers are often steeped in history and so magnificently striking that when you spot them, it really makes you sit up and take notice. They can be visible from motorways and seen for miles around, making a stunning landmark at their various locations across the UK. Having carried out a number of water tank refurbishments over the years here are a number of special ones we’ve found:
NORTON WATER TOWER, SHEFFIELD
This imposing, yet striking Grade II listed red sandstone water tower was built in the late 1800s in the shape of a cylinder 99 feet (30 m) high with a diameter of 82 feet (25 m). It features a cast iron tank with a capacity of 650,000 gallons and was designed by George F. Deacon, the Chief Engineer of the Liverpool Corporation Waterworks Department. It was built on the water pipeline between Lake Vyrnwy in North Wales and Liverpool to act as a balancing reservoir in the process of supplying water to Runcorn and Liverpool.
LINTON WATER TOWER, CAMBRIDGESHIRE
The Grade II listed water tower on Rivey Hill, Linton, was built in 1935-6 as part of the Linton water scheme and is a striking example of Art Deco design. It was constructed in brick rather than concrete, in order to harmonise with the landscape. The dodecagonal brick exterior has a monumental presence, in its prominent and exposed position on Rivey Hill and the landmark’s sculptural quality is enhanced by its 12 tapering buttresses.
UTC WATER TOWER, SWINDON
This cast iron structure was erected in 1871 and is Grade II listed. It forms a landmark within a heritage area of the town and the nearby railway village. As part of the original Great Western Rail works, the UTC Swindon site creates a link between the ‘historic engineering’ and the ‘engineering future’ of the local area. The recent revival of the site’s existing water tower offers a vivid and inspirational representation of the significance of Swindon’s engineering history to the students who attend UTC and anyone who is lucky enough to view the tower.
JUMBO WATER TOWER, BALKERNE GATE, COLCHESTER
The 130ft (40m) high Jumbo Water Tower at Balkerne Gate in Colchester, Essex, was built in 1882. The tower was nicknamed Jumbo by Reverend John Irvine who was annoyed that the tower dwarfed his nearby rectory. Construction took around 20 months, with 1,200,000 bricks and 819 tons of stone and cement used to build it. After a century of service the water tower became superfluous to the water supply system and was sold off by Anglian Water in 1987. It has had multiple owners since.
THE OLD WATER TOWER, SOUTHWOLD
The Old Water Tower in the middle of Southwold Common, was built in 1890. The tank held 40,000 gallons of water and in 1937 a new 150,000 gallon capacity Art Deco water tower was built next door. Southwold Borough Council bought the Old Water Tower before it came into the hands of successive water companies. It was then returned to the council for a nominal fee of £100 in 1987. The Old Water Tower has since been used as the Lifeboat museum and later by Adnams brewery for a number of years.
CHURCH LANGLEY WATER TOWER
Church Langley Water Tower is a conspicuous landmark perched high above and on the west side of the M11 motorway. It is situated just north of junction 7 near Harlow, where thousands of motorists pass it each day. It is visible from many parts of Harlow and the surrounding countryside.
The tower stores water for businesses and homes in the Church Langley suburb of Harlow. It is also a popular location for sponsored abseiling.
COLESHILL WATER TOWER
The Coleshill Water Tower is located in Coleshill, Buckinghamshire. It was built by German prisoners of war during WWI to provide a gravity fed water system for the nearby town of Amersham. The tower is 30 metres (100ft) high with an internal diameter of 5.4 metres (18ft). Its location on the summit of a hill makes the tower quite the local landmark and it is easily visible from the M40 motorway. If you stand at the top of the tower on a clear day, you can see Central London, Canary Wharf and Guildford Cathedral.
HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS, THORPENESS, SUFFOLK
The House in the Clouds is a stunning water tower which was built in Thorpeness, Suffolk in 1923 to receive water pumped from Thorpeness Windmill. The design is quite unique in that a house has been built on top of it to improve the look of the water tower, disguising the tank below with the appearance of a weatherboarded building more in keeping with Thorpeness’ mock-Tudor and Jacobean style. What makes it so intriguing is that, due to its location, the house on top of the tower looks as though it is floating above the trees.
DOCK TOWER, GRIMSBY
The magnificent Grimsby Dock Tower is a 200ft high hydraulic accumulator tower and a maritime landmark in North East Lincolnshire. It was completed on 27 March 1852 with the purpose of containing 30,000 imperial gallons of water which was used to provide hydraulic power for the machinery of the Grimsby Docks. The extreme height of the tower was necessary to achieve sufficient pressure.
TILEHURST WATER TOWER, READING
This striking construction is also sometimes known as the Park Lane Water Tower. It is a distinctive and prominent water tower, which is located in Tilehurst, Reading, on the Tilehurst ridge line and can be seen from a considerable distance, especially when approaching Reading from the west along the M4 motorway. The tower was erected by Reading Borough Council in 1932 and today it belongs to Thames Water, who still use it for its original purpose. It also houses the transmitter for a local radio station.