Jumbo Water Tower

Jumbo Water Tower photographed from the west in 2011

Jumbo Water Tower is a water tower at the Balkerne Gate in Colchester, Essex. The tower was nicknamed "Jumbo" after the London Zoo elephant as a term of derision in 1882 by Reverend John Irvine who was annoyed that the tower dwarfed his nearby rectory at St. Mary-at-the-Walls.

Construction took around 20 months and was completed in 1883. 1,200,000 bricks and 819 tons of stone and cement were used in the construction of the tower. The tank is constructed of cast-iron bolted panels and when it was in use could hold 1069 cubic metres (37,800 cubic ft) of water. It was claimed at the time to be the second largest water tower in England.[1]

Inside the central pier are 157 steps to a cupola which at 35.37 metres (116 ft) above ground offers views a long way over Colchester and the surrounding area.

After a century of service the water tower became superfluous to the water supply system and was sold off by Anglian Water in 1987. It has had multiple owners since. In 2001 after prolonged controversy permission was granted on appeal to replace the tank with a glass walled penthouse, but work on this never started and permission expired. In 2006 at the height of the UK property boom, Jumbo was sold at auction for £330,000 to a local developer. In 2008 a local charity was formed with the aim of restoring the Grade II* listed tower and making it a heritage attraction with guided public access.

In September 2011 a subsequent planning application to convert the tower into a penthouse, flats and restaurant was rejected by Colchester Borough Council by 7 votes to 5.[2] Further planning applications in 2013 were also refused, [3] and the building was put up for sale in May 2014,[4][5] selling for £190,000 at auction [6] to local poultry farmer Paul Flatman [7] A scheme devised by North Essex Heritage to construct a restaurant, gift shop and heritage centre within the tower were set back in July 2018 when an application for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant were turned down.[8]

See also


  1. ^ "Jumbo : England's largest Victorian water tower". Jumbo.uk.com. Archived from the original on 5 January 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Updated: Flats plan for Jumbo water tower rejected". Gazette. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Development: Change of use and alterations to provide a mixed use development... : The Jumbo Water Tower, Balkerne Passage, Colchester CO1 1PA". Planning.colchester.gov.uk. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  4. ^ "BBC News - Colchester's 'Jumbo' water tower to be sold". BBC News. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  5. ^ "Council fails to approve £4m overhaul of Colchester's 'Jumbo' water tower". Architectsjournal.co.uk. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Allsop LLP Residential Online Catalogue - Auction Home". Auction.co.uk. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Colchester's 'Jumbo' water tower bought by poultry farmer". www.bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  8. ^ Sandalls, Katy (3 July 2018). "Future uncertain for Jumbo after heritage funding bid is rejected". www.eadt.co.uk. East Anglian Daily Times - Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 10 May 2019.

External links

Coordinates: 51°53′23″N 0°53′42″E / 51.8896°N 0.8951°E / 51.8896; 0.8951

This page was last updated at 2019-11-13 23:06 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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