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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. www.speymouth.co.uk [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).
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Printed: 19/11/2018 09:02