Jumbo Survey

Posted by: on Sep 8, 2020 | No Comments

Urgent surveys ordered at historic water tower

The charity working to preserve Colchester’s Jumbo water tower has commissioned a series of extensive surveys after structural damage was discovered at the Victorian landmark.

Recent inspections have revealed the Balkerne Water Tower, affectionately known as Jumbo, is suffering from old age, so North Essex Heritage is conducting the digital and structural surveys of the tank, roof, cupola and high brickwork. The work is aimed at discovering the cause of cracks and other signs of deterioration in the building which dates back to 1883.

Historic England visit Jumbo
David Balcombe, left, Director, North Essex Heritage and Domenico D’Alessandro, Architect, Historic England inspect the inside of Jumbo. February 2020.

When the surveys have been completed, the charity will know the cost of protecting and restoring the fabric of the building. North Essex Heritage, formally known as Colchester and North East Essex Building Preservation Trust, is working with partners, including the building’s owner, towards preserving Jumbo and bringing it back into sustainable use.

The charity is paying for the surveys with support from Historic England and the Architectural Heritage Fund, each of which have given £20,000, Jumbo’s owner Paul Flatman and Colchester Borough Council.

Weather permitting, on Tuesday, September 8 2020, one of the tallest cherry picker platform lift in the UK will be moved onto the town centre site for a few days to allow experts to gain access to all parts of the 40 metre high building. A laser scanning drone and highly sophisticated photographic equipment have also been used to get a complete picture of the damage., leading it to be placed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.

Simon Hall MBE, Chairman of North Essex Heritage, said: “This is an important step in understanding the reasons behind the movement within the tank and the implications for the building’s future.

“We are delighted and very grateful to have the support from our funders, who recognise the national importance of Jumbo and the need for investment in its future. It is essential we are able to obtain grants and have continued support from local authorities to secure Jumbo’s renaissance. It’s difficult to imagine a more important project to save an iconic heritage asset.

“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 Director David Balcombe said: “We are working hard to minimise disruption to Jumbo’s neighbours while we carry out this urgent work which is an essential part of our efforts to save this unique heritage asset for the town and Britain. We would like to thank everyone for their co-operation.”

Simon Hall added: “We are fortunate that some of the nationally recognised specialists in this work are based in North Essex. We have retained The Morton Partnership and Randall Surveys to complete this stage of the project. Colchester conservation architects Purcell will be able to prepare drawings to inform and assist in the development of the next Heritage Lottery Fund application.”

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