20 May 2014

Good Head, Croydon

At the heart of Park Hill, Croydon, stands a water tower, built in 1867 above a pre-existing reservoir of 1851. The latter was constructed underground. Circular brick walls 30 feet high were capped with a domed roof. Of 75 feet diameter, the reservoir held a maximum of 950,000 gallons. Unfortunately, this facility proved incapable of serving the luxury properties built upon the higher ground on the then outskirts of Croydon, and the tower was constructed to provide suitable water pressure.

30 feet in diameter and 100 feet high to the top of the turret (excluding the 25 feet below ground), this was designed by Baldwin Latham, Borough Engineer, in a pseudo-Norman style. It incorporated a cylindrical wrought iron tank of 40,000 gallons capacity, borne on cast iron girders and intervening timber joists. Additional support of the tank came in the form of the central cast iron inlet, outlet and overflow pipes.

In the basement of the tower was an additional tank of 94,000 gallons capacity, on a level with and connected to the earlier reservoir. This lower tank had an internal diameter of 27 feet, with a brick and stone pier at its centre, supporting the pipes to the upper tank. The water stood 27 feet deep. The whole structure stands upon four feet of concrete, the walls 5 feet 5 inches thick at the bottom of the lower tank, of 3 feet 2 inches at ground level, and 14 inches thick at the tower's top.

In the late nineteenth century the tower could be climbed, by stairs, to access a viewing platform and, indeed, during WWI was used as a lookout for Zeppelins. Its water-providing abilities ultimately proved inadequate, and the site was abandoned in 1923 subsequent to construction of a new reservoir in the Addington Hills, although the old reservoir provided a source of water for fire-fighting during WWII. The tower was Grade II listed in 1970, but the tanks and internals are all gone, and the building remains abandoned, although thankfully secure.

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