Jumbo Water Tower
Jumbo Water Tower is a local name for the 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. Jumbo was claimed at the time to be the second largest water tower in England.
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.
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