Colchester: Jumbo tower included on list of the ten most endangered Victorian and Edwardian buildings

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An iconic water tower in north Essex has been included on a list of the 10 most endangered Victorian and Edwardian buildings in England and Wales.

Colchester’s Balkerne Tower has been singled out because it is at risk from “insensitive development” according to national charity the Victorian Society, which drew up the list.

The society, which aims to preserve important Victorian and Edwardian buildings and landscapes, came up with its top 10 after appealing for nominations from members of the public.

Standing 110 feet high, the building, known locally as “Jumbo”, is the largest remaining Victorian water tower in Britain.

Dating back to 1882, it was decommissioned and sold in 1987 and has since had a number of owners who have put forward a variety of planning applications which have consistently been turned down.


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The most recent application was submitted in May and includes plans for residential spaces and offices together with a restaurant, observatory deck and museum.

The architects acting on behalf of the present owner, George Braithwaite, say the development is the only viable way of preventing the tower from falling into further disrepair and claim the project could create up to 40 jobs.

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But director of the Victorian Society, Chris Costelloe, said the scheme threatened to alter Jumbo’s character.

He said: “The Jumbo water tower is a vital element in Colchester’s townscape.

“We urge Colchester Borough Council to reject the current harmful application and to work towards a regeneration scheme that would preserve its integrity.”

These views have been supported by the Balkerne Tower Trust, which campaigns to keep the tower in its original form.

Chairman Brian Light said: “The tower is one of Colchester’s three most important buildings along with the Town Hall and the Castle.

“The plans also propose to fill in the space between Jumbo’s legs with glazing which would destroy the view of the tower that everyone knows.”

Other buildings on the Victorian Society’s list include the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, Haggerston Baths in Hackney, east London, and the Palace Theatres in Plymouth and Swansea.

Last year, the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Birch near Colchester and the former County Hall building in Ipswich were named on the endangered list.

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