After many years based in Slaithwaite ACoRP have returned to Huddersfield and their new base in the listed water tower at Huddersfield station. This local landmark, which towers above John William St, was built by the London and North Western railway during the stations dramatic expansion in the 1870s. The two storey stone-built structure is topped by a cast iron water tank with a capacity of over 25,000 gallons. It’s believed the tank was used for more than just supplying water for steam engines but much of its history has been lost so it’s proving difficult to write a complete history of the building*
After the end of steam and the closure of the goods depot the water tank was made redundant, although the lower floors continued to eke out an existence as store rooms before being earmarked as a base for the (now cancelled) Penistone line tram-train project.
Now the building has been transformed for its role as ACoRPs headquarters. The project (costing £300,000) was funded jointly by the EU (through Interreg 4), Network Rail, The Railway Heritage Trust and ACoRP. The plans for the conversion come from Architect John Ives and the lead contractors were Bermar Ltd. When the work is complete the water tower will contain offices and meeting space plus a document storage room at mezzanine level. A further room is being converted to hold the kitchen, boiler room, toilets and cleaners cupboard.
Not surprisingly a listed building of this type has posed a few challenges. The cast iron water tank needed repairs to one of its sides and the interior side braces have all been renewed. Once the tank had been repainted a new concrete floor was installed. This doubles as a roof and provides a base for new electrical and heating equipment, allowing it to be kept out of view from the street and maintain the original look of the building. Some exterior stonework has been replaced or repointed and surplus electrical pipe work removed. Original fittings such as signs, lamp brackets, pulleys and the tanks water gauge have been retained for restoration and/or refitting.
A setback was finding that the original floor joists were rotten and needed renewing at a cost of £20,000. Replacing them affected the original completion date, causing it to be set back a few weeks.
To make the building greener the water tank will hold PV cells for generating electricity and heat exchangers for hot water. An underfloor heating system is being installed rather than conventional radiators and pipe work. Local contractors and suppliers have been used wherever possible.
*If anyone can help fill in some of the gaps in the water towers history, please get in touch with the ACoRP via email at http://www.acorp.uk.com
© Paul Bigland Photography