Dereham water tower could be transformed into home

The Victorian Grade II listed water tower, Cemetery Road, Dereham, which is to be turned into flats.

The Victorian Grade II listed water tower, Cemetery Road, Dereham, which is to be turned into flats. Next to it is the current white water tower.Photo: Denise BradleyCopy: Chris HillFor: EDP©Archant Photographic 200901603 772434 - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2009

A Victorian landmark once used to supply clean water to an entire town could soon be transformed into a home.

Dereham Water Tower in 1895.

Dereham Water Tower in 1895. - Credit: Sue Walker White

The Grade II-listed water tower on Cemetery Road in Dereham is one of just two left in Norfolk built in an Italian Gothic style, and is the oldest of its kind in the county.

And now plans submitted to Breckland District Council this month aim to turn the building into an unusual property.

Should they go ahead, it will see the tower's internal metal water tank removed.

When it was constructed in the 1880s, the red-brick tower would have helped prevent the spread of cholera in the town by improving water pressure. This meant sanitation was improved and townsfolk did not have to rely on wells.

Local historian Sue Walker White said: 'I have had a look at the planning application and it looks as if there is minimal intervention, particularly to the outside of the building and the repairs are pretty much like for like to the original.

'I think it went out of use in the 1960s so having someone willing to take it on and keep it part of the landscape can only be a good thing.'

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In the design and access statement, submitted as part of the application, architect Jeremy Stacey said the previous design, which was approved, removed beams which defined the essence of the building and his design aims to retain these.

It is also proposed to create windows on the top floor to provide light for the building.

The borehole for the tower was sunk into the chalk under Cemetery Road in 1881, with the treatment works and tower completed by 1889. Treated water was pumped into the tower by a steam engine.

When it was first built there was opposition among residents who thought it was too expensive.

The site still provides water for the town through the modern concrete tower which over-shadows its historic predecessor.

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