Listed Building

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Status: Designated


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Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NJ 33881 64690
333881, 864690


Jenkins and Marr, consulting engineers, 1898-1901; J Hunter Clark, Plumbers, Elgin, contractor; Mr Ogilvy, builder; lower entrance sealed 1990. Exceptional circular 2-stage water tower (decommissioned 1988) with slated conical roof, with claim to be one of Scotland's earliest reinforced concrete structures (see Notes). Prominently sited on high ground above Garmouth village, and built to supply gravity fed water from reservoir high up on Fochabers Burn to Garmouth and Kingston, via unusual tandem chamber arrangement within tower.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: 2 doorways to S, that to lower at semi-basement level now sealed, that to upper chamber rising through wallhead within piended dormer.

INTERIOR: access not possible (2008) as lower entrance now sealed. See Notes for details of 2006 Linn and Archibald report on upper section.

Statement of Special Interest

Prominently sited on a hill overlooking the village of Garmouth to the south and Kingston to the north, this circular water tower displays a number of unusual features in historical and engineering terms. The Duthie Report gives the tower's dimensions as "diameter approximately 5.5m; overall height 8.5m; walls 380mm thick (with slight batter toward base)". While it is not yet possible to definitively state that it is of reinforced concrete construction, a number of factors suggest that there is a strong case for this theory. The 1898-9 construction date is particularly early for a structure of possibly reinforced concrete construction, and we understand that a Garmouth Water Works plan dated 1898 shows the layout of the pipe system. George Gordon Jenkins, Civil Engineer and George Marr, Architect, were based in Aberdeen and had worked together on "concrete and iron net-work foundations - on a special principle" at Purfleet as early as 1887, lending strong support to the understanding that Garmouth water tower may be constructed of reinforced concrete. Technically the design is outstanding as the building does not appear to contain water storage tanks, but is itself the two stacked chambers. It is likely that mass concrete would not be strong enough to withstand the stresses of such a design, again indicating the probable existence of a reinforcing system within the concrete walls. Further support is lent to the theory that this is a reinforced concrete structure as a local resident recalls seeing rust marks on the walls, and flat metal bars (flat steel bars were often used in early reinforced concrete) during remedial work carried out in the 1940s.

The Linn and Archibald Report describes the interior of the tower with lower and upper chambers divided by a concrete floor. The upper chamber has three vertical cast iron pipes and is surmounted by a further concrete floor (apparently of un-reinforced concrete and supported by four steel beams located within the depth of the floor structure) at the level of the upper door sill, with a steel-covered access hatch and the remains of a cast iron Glenfield & Kennedy hand-operated water pump and some cast iron pipework. They also note the survival of the original timber roof structure of sarking boards and purlins.

Established in 1895 to investigate the best public water supply, the Garmouth, Kingston and District Special Water Committee finally agreed to proceed with the Fochabers gravitation system, with financial support of £500 from the Duke of Richmond and Gordon and a loan from the Public Works Commission. In late 1900 the water tower required repair as the upper tank had a number of leaks. Mr Davidson who carried out the repairs "picked the whole coating of the upper cistern and re-coated it with pure cement, after which the tower was water-tight" (Minutes of the Garmouth and Kingston Water Committee). The tower and water system were managed by the Committee, with paid clerk and water manager, until 1930 when responsibility passed to the Town Councils and County Council. These councils combined in 1950 to form the Laich of Moray Water Board. By 1988, when in the ownership of Grampian Regional Council, the water tower became redundant. It is currently (2008) owned by Moray Council and leased to the local Amenities Group to retain as a landmark and viewpoint.

List description revised and category changed from C(S) to B 2008.



Information courtesy of Maryon Fairman, The Institution of Civil Engineers. Prof Roland Paxton Civil Engineering Heritage Scotland Highlands and Islands (2007), p76. Dr Barry Barton Water Towers in Britain (2003). Forres Archive Department Minutes of the Garmouth and Kingston Special Water Supply Committee - 156 handwritten pages (1895-1930). Moray District Record Office Papers and Minutes, 1886/7 and 1895. [accessed 13.05.08]. Thomas A Duthie C Eng., M.I. Structure Report, (1990) extract from Maryon Fairman. Walter Linn and Martin Archibald Inspection of Garmouth Water Tower (22.11.2006). 2nd edition Ordnance Survey Map, Elginshire (1902-4).

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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Printed: 26/04/2019 06:44