Plans revealed for historic landmark Gawthorpe Water Tower

A landmark water tower is to be repaired after campaigners secured listed status from English Heritage.

Monday, 28th December 2020, 3:00 pm
Gawthorpe Water Tower, dubbed the Iron Giant, has stood tall and proud in Chidswell Lane on the border of Dewsbury
Gawthorpe Water Tower, dubbed the Iron Giant, has stood tall and proud in Chidswell Lane on the border of Dewsbury

Gawthorpe Water Tower, dubbed the Iron Giant, has stood tall and proud in Chidswell Lane on the border of Dewsbury and Gawthorpe since the 1920s.

It is 55 metres tall and sits on a ridge making it visible for miles around.

The iron structure, clad in concrete, was built between 1922 and 1928 as part of the now-demolished Pildacre Waterworks. It stored drinking water for the growing village of Gawthorpe.

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The tower itself ceased operation in 2006 though the site is still in use by Yorkshire Water. The tower is said to need extensive repairs.

A local campaign was launched to save the tower and have it repaired and painted.

The group, led by Chris Burley, successfully applied to Historic England for the tower to be listed.

Chris, who lives nearby, started a Facebook group called Paint Gawthorpe Water Tower, when his wife Joanne said she thought the tower needed a paint job and was “looking a bit tatty.”

Chris said he was delighted the listing had been granted and added: “I’ve lived close to the tower all my life. Now it’s listed we can concentrate on getting it repaired - and painted!”

In its listing document, Historic England says the Gawthorpe tower is a “notable example” of a municipal water tower, comparable to the more ornate structures built by private estates.

The document says: “As a structure primarily serving a functional purpose one might expect it to simply be utilitarian in design.

“But instead it is treated architecturally demonstrating that aesthetic considerations were clearly just as important as functionality.

“It is clear the local board intended to make an impressive visual statement reflecting the civic pride of the township.”

A spokesman for Yorkshire Water said: “Gawthorpe Water Tower is a local landmark and future maintenance works will be undertaken in consultation with Wakefield Council to ensure its heritage value is retained.

“While the tower itself is disused, it stands above buildings and assets that remain operational and part of our network.”