Sheerness Water Tower

The water tower is actually two buildings with the second building at the front being added at the later date. The first building was probably built between 1840 and 1850, the second was built in 1891. There are three wells within the building which were tested in the 1940’s. Here are the findings:

1. Name of pumping station Trinity Road, Sheerness
2. Water derived from (geological formation) London Tertiaries and Chalk
3. Normal quantity abstracted from site gals/day 200,000
4. Nature of treatment Chlorination
5. Estimated reliable yield gals/day 200,000

    No.1 No.2 No.3.
6. Top of well or borehole O.D. 6 8 8
7. Diameter of well or borehole   7ft 7ft 14in
8. Depth of well or borehole ft 304 335 810
9. Length of adits yds. 37 37 -
10. Rest level below surface ft No 279 279
11. Pumping level below surface ft pumping 450 450
12. Pumping rate g.p.h. plant 9,000 9,000

There is a 14-inch borehole at the bottom of No. 1 well, to a total depth of 384 feet from the surface. There is an 18-inch borehole at the bottom of No. 2 well, to a total depth of 805 feet from the surface. A heading at a depth of 200 feet from the surface connects wells No. 1 and No. 2.

The section of No.2 well and borehole is as follows:

Made Ground 2ft
Drift 44ft
London Clay 291ft
Oldhaven Beds 21ft
Woolwich Beds 26ft
Thanet Sand 117ft
Chalk 303ft
Total 804ft

After the pumping station was built there was a lot of criticism due to it not being able to pump enough water for the population of Sheerness. In may 1897 Councillor W. J. Penney. J.P, acquired permission from the council to have a reservoir built at Halfway, situated behind Halfway Houses. At a council meeting Councillor Penney requested that a surveyor be sent out to give an estimate of the cost of building the reservoir and for pipes to be laid between the reservoir and the pumping station on Trinity Road. The reservoir was to store a supply of water for fourteen days consumption, the current storage was for only four hours consumption. Mr John Copland had said during the meeting that had the water board built a reservoir at Halfway first there would have been a large enough supply that there would be no need for the proposed works at all, thus saving a lot of money.

In April 1988 the building was removed from the Department of the Environments List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, it had been a Grade II listed Building. The site was still regarded as an important historical building but was no longer under protection.

A proposal was put to the Council in September 1992 that the old water tower be refurbished and used as the local heritage centre and a tourist information centre. Swale Councils Leisure Services Committee agreed to look into the proposal, it was hoped that with the plan being agreed there would be support from heritage groups such as English Heritage and the English Tourist Board, unfortunately this proposal was not accepted and the building was left derelict for many more years.

Over the years many proposals have been put forward for use of this site, one specific one was to use the site for housing, a free house, and shop. This proposal was accepted in October 1996, after around 3 years trying to get the proposal accepted and iron out the details the applicant walked away from the proposal citing reasons “resources, time and energy.” (Letter dated from applicant May 29, 1997.)

In 2000 part of Mile Town, Sheerness, was classed as a conservation area, the water tower falls within the conservation area, the local council has said “given its scale and appearance, makes a significant contribution to the character and appearance of the existing conservation area and the existing street scene.” The Conservation Officer had commented during previous planning proposals that “the water tower is an extraordinary piece of fanciful late Victorian architecture, arguably the most important, non-listed building in the conservation area.”

A housing application was lodged in 2002 but due to design issues it was withdrawn.

Another housing application was proposed in 2005, it was for 29 flats and maisonettes within the existing building with an adjacent new build and 29 spaces for parking. Planning permission was granted on 11 August 2005 and seems to be going ahead.

Designed & built by - Kevin Ali