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Sights & Scenes of the British Isles

Photo Focus: Water Towers of the British Isles (Part 2)

by Peter Kessler, 14 October 2023

 

Bridgewater Papermill Water Tower
Photo © Tarboat

Bridgewater Papermill Water Tower

This sits on the northern side of North Road, close to the Manchester Ship Canal, and opposite Poole Hall Industrial Estate, Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.

A prominent landmark in Ellesmere Port, this concrete water tower at the Bridgewater paper mill site has outlasted the mill itself, thanks to the aerials which are attached to it.

Docking Water Tower
Photo © Tarboat

Docking Water Tower

The tower lies close to a farm on the western side of the B1153 Bircham Road, roughly four hundred metres to the south of the B1454 Sedgeford Road to the west of the village of Docking in Norfolk.

In the past the village used to be nicknamed 'Dry Docking' as it had no water supply of its own except rainwater. This was owing to its elevation, which meant that the water table was deep and wells were difficult to dig. A feature of the village landscape is several large surviving dew ponds, created as reservoirs into which rainwater was channelled.

In the 1760s a single well was sunk some seventy metres down. This provided domestic water for the village at the price of a farthing per bucket (the money went to pay an attendant who worked the windlass, since there was no pump).

A water tank which was mounted on a horse-drawn cart also circulated around the village to sell water by the bucket to villagers. The use of this well continued until 1936, when water was eventually piped into the village.

Today the water tower is, in the eyes of some, disfigured by the communications masts and antennae which are probably saving it from demolition.

Seafield Gardens Water Tower
Photo © Bournemouth Andy

Seafield Gardens Water Tower

Bournemouth Upper Gardens, through which flows the River Bourne, can be found immediately to the south of The Cedars on Branksome Wood Road in Bournemouth, Dorset.

Within the Upper Gardens this Victorian water tower has been preserved as an attractive landmark. Built in 1885 in the Gothic style, the tower was made to power a sprinkler system and fountain in the gardens.

Today the entrance has been sealed and the inside is a haven for bats as they roost here in safety. Originally the tower contained a water wheel which was removed during the war for armaments.

The arboretum in the gardens contains some great trees including Persian Ironwood and Sawarra Cypress. These can be seen around the water tower.

RAF Honington Water Tower
Photo © Stuart Banham

RAF Honington Water Tower

The tower sits alongside Green Lane, on the western flank of Honington itself and a short way to the north of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.

It dates from Second World War period when this base was first laid out. It and other facilities within the restricted area of RAF Honington can be seen from the public road at Rymer Point.

Peover Superior Water Tower
Photo © Tarboat

Peover Superior Water Tower

On the western bank of two small lakes, the tower sits directly to the south of Moss Lane by about four hundred-and-fifty metres, and roughly four hundred metres to the east of the junction with Percivals Lane, and with Marthall on the A537 being the closest large settlement.

The Peover Superior water tower in Cheshire was erected in 1958 by Bucklow Rural District Council. In 2012 planning permission was granted to turn the redundant tower into a dwelling, but this does not seem so far to have happened.

Port Talbot Steelworks Water Tower
Photo © Tarboat

Port Talbot Steelworks Water Tower

This is located on site on the western side of Harbour Way, to the immediate south of the cooling towers and power plant in Swansea's Port Talbot.

The present site is a remnant of the former steelworks which largely closed in 1961 after up to sixty years of production.

Tower Park Water Tower
Photo © Bournemouth Andy

Tower Park Water Tower

On the northern side of Calluna Road, midway along, the tower sits within in the Manning's Heath area of Poole in Dorset.

This photo was taken from Wool Road. The tower is close to the large entertainment complex in which fast food, a leisure centre, and a cinema combines, while the park itself takes its name from the prominent tower.

Castlethorpe Water Tower
Photo © Matt B

Castlethorpe Water Tower

This sits on the western side of the West Coast Main Line out of Milton Keynes, approximately midway between Lodge Farm Lane and Fox Covert Lane, to the immediate south-east of the village of Castlethorpe in Buckinghamshire.

Many hundreds - perhaps even thousands - of people everyday pass this structure which shadows the WCML between Castlethorpe and Wolverton, as well as being gazed upon by the occasional dog-walker on the cycle route which skirts it, perhaps being unaware of the history it has witnessed.

This is only one of two water towers of this type left in the UK. It was built in 1939 by the London Midland & Scottish Railway to filter water for use in the water troughs here which fed passing steam locomotives. The water here is claimed to be 'hard', and therefore prone to furring up the boilers of steam locos which used it.

The tower's roof was removed during the early 1990s as it was made of asbestos and was deemed a health risk if left alone. Not too many years ago it seems that plans were put in place to create a preservation fund in order to restore the tower. Those plans fell through, with no immediate replacement plan.

Newton-le-Willows Water Tower
Photo © George Arthur

Newton-le-Willows Water Tower

This lies inside the irregular quadrilateral shape which is formed by the Southworth Road and M6 to the north and west, and the railway lines between Newton-le-Willows and Patricroft (west-to-east) and the Warrington to Golborne connection (south-to-north)

Photographed in the 1970s, this tower in Newton-le-Willows, St Helens, Merseyside, is passed by very little traffic - unlike today. The tower's pumping station is left of centre. The tower itself was constructed in 1904 for the Newton-in-Makerfield Urban District Council.

At that time it was the first reinforced concrete water tower to be built for a public water supply. Despite it being a listed building it was demolished later in the 1970s.

Cardiff Central Water Tower
Photo © Tarboat

Cardiff Central Water Tower

This small tower can be found at the north-western corner of Cardiff Central station, on the bank of the River Taff, and is framed to its north by Wood Street City Centre in Cardiff.

Within a year of this photo being taken, the concrete circular holder had been artistically decorated and the land around it fenced off for redevelopment.

 

One photo each on this page kindly contributed by Stuart Banham, Matt B, and George Arthur, two by Bournemouth Andy, and five by 'Tarboat', all via the 'History Files: Water Towers of the British Isles' Flickr group.

Main Sources

British Water Tower Appreciation Society

Google Maps: Water Towers & Tanks

National Library of Scotland: Geo-Referenced Maps

Heritage Norfolk

Waymarking

 

Images and text copyright © P L Kessler & contributors, except where stated. An original feature for the History Files.