The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Great Tower of Glemsford

I heard a rumour the other day that a local publisher was about to produce a book about the water towers of East Anglia.

Glemsford Water Tower

We once had our own glorious water tower in Glemsford. This was a great source of village pride, but it was, regrettably, demolished in 1962

We have an account of the tower's construction, and the associated engineering works in October 1905

"The inhabitants of Glemsford are now in measurable reach of a good supply of water. On Thursday and Friday the engine, mains and water tanks underwent a severe test prior to being brought into public use. The pumping station is near Glemsford railway station in a neatly built structure of bricks, in the engine room is a 11 hp oil engine and a 6" x3" three throw ram pump by Campbell Gas Engine Co of Halifax. The bore is 520ft deep and lined with 1/4" steel tubes, the yield is 6000 gallons an hour, the water is pumped to a water tower on Hunt's Hill, the tower is 45ft high and is built with White Gildenburgh bricks relieved by Leicester red is surmounted by a steel tank 15ft deep by 20ft with a capacity of 30000 gallons. The top water level is 30ft higher than the Glemsford church tower. 24 fire hydrants are placed at various parts of the village. The cost of the scheme is £ 3000 to which will be added the cost of the land, engine and the expences of the engineers. The engineer was J.Eayrs of Birmingham, contractors for engine house and tower was E.Tabor of Cambridge, suppliers of water mains, Holywell Iron Company, mains were laid by A.Appleby of Leyton."

Glemsford's water supply was pumped using a splendid single-cylinder pump and flywheel housed in a rather ornamental brick-and-tile building near the Lower Road, into the vast steel tank, which was painted with aluminium paint and shone like a beacon. Underneath the tank, the council had a surveyors office used by Mr Taylor who collected the rents. It was also used as a council chamber. The pump was tended by a villager appointed to the task. Maintenance was a full-time job. When the pump was working, it could be heard all over the village, and blew the occasional smoke-ring as it puffed away.

The tower was a great sight, Glemsford's own Eiffel Tower. It was much admired. Occasionally, however, the water ran rust red. Every few years, the inside of the tank was painted to prevent rust. Afterwards, the water tasted so bad that the villagers went back to their old ways and took water from the brook in Brook Street.
For village youngsters, the dare of climbing up to the roof was irresistable. The view from the top was magnificent. The final ascent was up a ladder fastened to the outside of the tank, and thence onto the roof.

According to my informant, the water tank was demolished in 1962 because the water tank had rusted through, just after the parish council made its final payment to clear its overdraft to pay for the edifice. It now seems rather a shame that the noble structure was not saved, as it had made a rather splendid council chamber.

View from the top of the tower


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