Water Towers of Britain

Water Towers of Britain

 by Barry Barton

Water Towers of Britain is a timely record of an important part of Britain’s engineering heritage (water towers are steadily being demolished and few are now being built). In 1994 the Panel for Historical Engineering Works decided to form a sub-group to research, locate, visit and photograph water towers of every description throughout Britain and Ireland to produce a definitive record of this subject – about which very little has been published. The author and his colleagues obtained information from more than 200 correspondents and numerous archives. This book will stand as an important reference work for civil engineers, architects, historians, local authorities and members of the public for many decades to come.

The initial uncontrolled expansion of the early industrial revolution resulted in unredeemed urban squalor in which disease was rife. Conditions could only be made tolerable by the supply of clean piped water, and of course sewers. In towns, municipal water supplies with their water towers began to appear in the early Victorian era, followed by rural water facilities. The latter were often under the patronage of country estates until Rural District Councils, and subsequently Water Boards, assumed responsibility for delivering piped water throughout the countryside.

Early water towers, provided by such a range of agencies, were naturally very varied, even though they had the same basic function – storing water at a given height. Strangely, few standard solutions were adopted so the variations in size, shape and form of surviving towers seem endless. This made the author’s task a fascinating one, but it also meant 8 years’ hard work for him and his colleagues on the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Panel for Historical Engineering Works.

The Book
The result of their labours is a book of 240 pages with 83 photographs and diagrams and 25 maps. There are eleven chapters ranging in content from the functions and origins of the water tower, through Victorian municipal towers, early rural towers, early and modern concrete construction, all-metal structures, towers for other purposes, problems, re-use and the future.

The Author Barry Barton studied engineering and completed a research project on hydrology for his doctorate in 1970. This was the start of a career in the water industry spanning a diverse number of specialised fields. The 15 years he worked for Anglian Water included 5 years as Divisional Systems Engineer which involved the installation of telemetry and radio base stations in water towers. This kindled an interest in the structures themselves and proved to be the genesis for their study, and ultimately this book.

Water Towers of Britain, published by the Newcomen Society (2003), price £32 including p&p in the UK.

To order a copy please send a cheque, for £32, payable to ‘The Newcomen Society’ and post it to The Newcomen Society, The Science Museum, London SW7 2DD.

To pay by credit card (not American Express) click here: Order a copy now

  • Forthcoming Events

    6:30 pm Bulldozer: a study in technology... @ MANCHESTER Museum of Science & Industry
    Bulldozer: a study in technology... @ MANCHESTER Museum of Science & Industry
    Mar 27 @ 6:30 pm – 8:15 pm
    A lecture by Dr Ralph Harrington. The modern age has quintessentially been the age of machines, and the large-scale mechanized transformation of the world has been one of the key motivating desires – and fears[...]
    7:00 pm Richard Trevithick’s Lambeth Engine @ BIRMINGHAM: Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum
    Richard Trevithick’s Lambeth Engine @ BIRMINGHAM: Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum
    Apr 4 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
    A lecture by David Hulse, Lectures start at 7pm.  Doors open at 6.30pm and we meet in the Thintank Lecture Theatre, Level 2 at Millennium Point.    For Sat Nav, use postcode B4 7AP
    7:30 pm Canal Lifts @ BRISTOL, BAWA
    Canal Lifts @ BRISTOL, BAWA
    Apr 19 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
    A lecture by Denis Dodd
  • Twitter Feed

  • Latest News

    • Newcomen Society Annual Conference & Tour Teesside Friday 13 to Tuesday 17 July 2018

      Teesside Flyer

    • What is Wireless?

      Jacob Ward, Bodleian Libraries Byrne-Bussey Marconi Fellow (Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL), explores what happened to ‘wireless’, from after World War II to the birth of the new wireless in the 1980s and 1990s, by exploring the imagination and imagery associated with wireless communications by its biggest proponents: the Marconi Companies. Date: 6 March, […]

    • The Society’s AGM

      The AGM will be held on 14 February at 17.45, in the Dana Studio, The Wellcome Wolfson Building, 165 Queensgate, Londoin SW7 5HD. It will be followed by Ivor Lewis’s lecture: The Development of the Engineering Drawing Office. Further details from: office@newcomen.com

    • Help Hollycombe Steam Collection

      Hollycombe is a nationally important steam collection of historic engines rebuilding its Sawmill a project titled ‘trees to the trenches’  to bring back to live the Robey WWI engine. Alongside this are two civil engineering projects which require some engineering advice. Firstly, on the installation of a rare hand crane from the 1860s. An engineer […]

    • More News...