Jumbo Water Tower

 Jumbo Water Tower is a water tower at Balkerne Gate in Colchester, Essex. The tower was given the derisive nickname Jumbo after a London Zoo elephant by the Reverend John Irvin in 1882, who was concerned that the tower was overshadowing his nearby rectory at St Mary at the Walls.

Jumbo Water Tower
Jumbo Water Tower / Ritchie Hicks

The tower was listed as a Grade II listed building by English Heritage in 1971 The water tower was built to supply Colchester with drinking water and for fire fighting purposes. The tower for the gravity water supply was designed by Charles Clegg (c.1855-1904), the town's surveyor and engineer. After twenty months of construction, the tower was completed in 1882 and opened on 27 September 1883. After an earthquake in 1888, cracks appeared in the structure and it was therefore reinforced with tie rods. In 1895, new pumps and pipes were installed so that the water tower could supply the city with water throughout the day (until then, only six hours a day).  

In 1894 and 1908, metal footbridges were built around the reservoir. In 1948, the original roof was replaced with a roof covered with copper sheeting. In 1974 the water tower was owned by Anglian Water. The tower was decommissioned in 1984 and sold in 1987. In 2007 part of the roof was damaged by high winds. In 2014 the tower was bought by Paul Flatman, who leased it to North Essex Heritage for 150 years in 2021.

  • Total height of the building: 40.1 m,
  • Height of the masonry part: 27 m,
  • Floor plan: 17.5 × 17.5 m,
  • Tank volume: 1 004 666 l (1069 m³),
  • Number of steps: 157,
  • Consumption: 450 t of cement, 369 t of stone, 142 t of iron, 1.25 million red bricks
  • Tower builder: Henry Everett & Son,
  • Tank construction: A.G. Mumford,
  • Original budget: £6,700,
  • Total actual budget: £11,138


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