Giant cherry picker helps inspect damaged giant water tower
PUBLISHED: 11:30 09 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:13 09 September 2020
The tallest cherry picker platform lift in the country was brought in to help carry out an urgent inspection of Colchester’s treasured 137-year-old Jumbo water tower.
The “nationally important” Balkerne Water Tower, more commonly known as the Jumbo, is currently undergoing an assessment after signs of deterioration were found.
Historic England and the Architectural Heritage Fund have each given £20,000 to support an extensive survey of the site, which dates back to 1883 but has been empty for more than 35 years.
It is hoped the assessment, which will also include work by a laser scanning drone and highly sophisticated photographic equipment, will get a full picture of the damage.
That will then enable North Essex Heritage and Jumbo owner Paul Flatman to know what is needed to bring the Grade II Listed building back into use.
Simon Hall MBE, chairman of North Essex Heritage, said the survey was an “important step in understanding the implications for the building’s future”.
“It’s difficult to imagine a more important project to save an iconic heritage asset,” he said.
“North Essex Heritage trustees are determined to secure the conservation of this building of national interest and these surveys are a key part of refining our knowledge of its condition.
“Needless to say, Jumbo has deteriorated since it became redundant as a water tower many years ago, but we have exciting plans to breathe new life into Jumbo that will also boost local business, tourism and culture.”
North Essex Heritage has long has ambitions to bring the Jumbo back into use.
It proposed to turn it into a heritage centre, gift shop and restaurant a couple of years ago.
There was also a failed bid to create housing on the site in 2013.
However, the plans had to be put on hold after failing to win Heritage Lottery Fund money at that stage.
Tony Calladine, regional director for Historic England in the East of England, said: “The Jumbo water tower is a significant and much-loved local landmark in Colchester.
“As the tallest and most intact municipal water tower in England, it is a nationally important heritage site.
“We’re pleased to support the project development phase for the building, enabling urgent temporary repairs and the first steps towards a long-term sustainable future for this remarkable structure.”
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