Charity's plans for water tower

ALTERNATIVE plans to restore one of Colchester's most high-profile landmark buildings have been unveiled by a local charity.

Roddy Ashworth

ALTERNATIVE plans to restore one of Colchester's most high-profile landmark buildings have been unveiled by a local charity.

New proposals to preserve the huge town centre water tower known as Jumbo were made public yesterday, just weeks after its current owner attracted criticism with his latest vision for the building's future, which would involve major structural changes.

And yesterday Brian Light said his charity, the Balkerne Tower Trust, was putting forward three options for restoring the dilapidated Grade II* listed building as a tourist attraction.

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All three of these would allow public access to the deteriorating structure, with the most ambitious also seeing the creation of lifts, toilets and an exhibition space in its giant copper tank.

This museum area could be used to house displays highlighting the importance of Victorian water towers and the changes in health and sanitation they brought.

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But Mr Light said that most importantly the plans would preserve the architectural integrity of the building, which is the largest remaining Victorian water tower in the country.

Mr Light said the proposals and costings had been prepared by architecture and listed building specialists Purcell Miller Tritton after extensive assessment and research into the structure.

The three options proposed by the trust are:

* a �300,000 schedule of short-term repairs to the building which would also allow visitors to access the tower

* a �710,000 scheme which would also include a display area within the tank

* a �1.2 million plan to provide museum space in the tank, office space, a small retail area and single storey accommodation at the foot of the tower.

Yesterday a statement from the trust said: “In Colchester, visible for miles around and towering over its surroundings, stands the magnificent Jumbo - the second largest Victorian water tower ever built - and, which is extremely rare, ideally suited for public access.

“An ornate cast iron spiral staircase leads through a central shaft to a tower room offering panoramic views of the town and surrounding countryside.

“This vast, enclosed space has the potential to house an exhibition celebrating the birth of modern water supply.

“Public tours of jumbo led by local blue badge guides would bring this awesome building to life.

“As a visitor attraction, Jumbo would be a major and unique asset to Colchester tourism and national heritage, and help reconnect us to an important but largely untold part of our history.”

Last month Jumbo's current owner, George Braithwaite, put forward plans for a �3.8million redevelopment of Jumbo, which would see a restaurant, office and residential scheme for the building.

However, it would also include a number of major changes to the building - including filling in its giant brick legs with glass - that conservation campaigners have claimed is incompatible with its listed status.

More information on the Balkerne Tower Trust's plans is available online on

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