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Thursday, 27 January 2011

The north end revealedNow

Now that all the ivy has been removed, this is the view of the tower from Station Road. We do not have a picture showing the ivy in place as the trees hid it from view. However, the clean stonework indicates the extent of it. It covered the window and went right to the top of the tank.
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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Ivy and its removal

These first two images show the rear of the tower in late summer 2010. Trees are crowding in on the tower and, because of the lie of the land are actually growing over the top of the tank at the north end. Ivy has grown right up the east wall and disappears into the tank. The middle window bay is almost covered in ivy, which was growing through broken panes and into the tower.

By contrast, these pictures were taken on 26 January 2011, when the last bit of ivy was removed, revealing the centre window bay and the east side of the tank. The ivy had in fact done almost no damage at all, so good is the pointing. It was almost dark by the time the north end was totally clear of ivy so pictures of that will appear later.
The unevenly spaced square holes are ventillators that go right through to the inside of the tower. Perhaps these were fitted after the tower was built in an effort to lessen the condensation that afflicts all water towers of this type. They do little for the otherwise fine details of the walls and windows and should be needed no longer.
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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Restoration Man Filming Day 2

We got properly equipped for climbing the ladder in safety.
The chap in the bue helmet is me - entering the Corporate Headquarters building.

Me again going 'over the top'. Presenter George Clarke is at the foot of the ladder

George, Pat and me examining the plans

Pat pretending to be a film star. And, it's in High Definition.
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Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Filming for Channel 4's Restoration man

Cameraman and sky lift operator (in fluorescent jacket) prepare for ascent.

The view from the station.

High above The Sidings.

The sky lift almost at full stretch filming from the north, on the station approach, where trees had until recently obscured the tower from view.
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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Water level indicators

At some locations there was electronic communication between the water tower and the signal box, enabling the signal man to know how much water was available. We do not think this system was installed at Settle where the water level indicator on the outside of the tank would have been visible from the signal box. (Photographs courtesy of the Midland Railway Society)
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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Trees removed

These two shots, in summer 2010 and January 6th 2011, taken from the top of the station approach show how the water tower has been brought back into view. That car doesn't seem to have moved much either!

Even more dramatic is the view of the tower from Station Road where trees had almost totally hidden the building.

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You can see more pictures of the tower, its grounds and its caravan / site office at
The pictures should hopefully show the project at just about its bleakest - newly scalped of trees and no building work having started. It was a cold and overcast January day too.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Other similar towers for comparison

The first three pictures in this section were supplied from the Roy Burrows Midland Railway Trust collection

Garsdale, Settle-Carlisle Line, showing the boarded roof. The railings are the same as those at Settle. Some of the sides are totally unprotected. It is thought that most tanks were covered in some way, probably to keep leaves out.
Blea Moor, Settle-Carlisle Line. Small children 'play on the railway' whilst mother looks on. The tower is smaller in area than Settle's but the tank is one tier of plates deeper. Note the railings and the chimney said to indicate the existence of a pumping engine. Windows are smaller than Settle's and much lower - with sill at child head height.
Garsdale again, this time showing windows higher than Settle's. Garsdale's station tank was otherwise identical in size and layout to Settle's. This tower was used as the local dance hall, cinema and concert hall. It could hold 50 or 60 people and had two coal stoves. The original stone flagged floor was replaced with a wooden dance floor, funded by the proceeds of a dance at the local school. The boards came cheaply from the remains of army huts at Gretna Green after the 1914-18 war. The building was demolished in 1971 but the lower courses of stone remain.
Keighley - a Midland Railway tower still in use on the preserved Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. Smaller than Settle's and built a few years later the design is very similar.
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Monday, 3 January 2011

Four more background pictures

This gives an idea of the inside of the tank now cleared of vegetation and the debris of collapsed railings and walkway with the various bars labelled. The size of the tank, 20 feet x 52 feet x 6 feet becomes clearer. The water froze during December making walking inside the tank hazardous. Advice from the people who nowadays make these tanks is that all of the braces can be safely removed. Its purpose was to assist with construction and to counter the pressure of water against the sides. We shall however preserve examples for posterity and shall probably leave the corner braces where they are.
Date not known but this is Settle Station with the water tank in the background, maybe then still in use. The lamp posts are, happily, there no more having been replaced by heritage lighting. The sight, sounds and smell of steam trains thundering through Settle can still be enjoyed.

The signature of Samuel Waite Johnson on the water tower plans dated 27 August 1874 (Courtesy of Network Rail). Johnson's locomotives hauled the early Anglo-Scottish expresses over the Settle-Carlisle line. Like me, Waite was an old boy of Leeds Grammar School.

A portrait of the tower possibly when still in use and before tree growth had been allowed to eclipse its 'greatness'.
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Saturday, 1 January 2011

Some details inside the tank

The side plates are connected to the bracing rods by flanges cast in to the plates and very substantial cotter pins secured in place by iron wedges.
Cross braces are secured to the vertical posts by means of an inverted U piece, held tightly by opposing iron wedges. Very effective and the only tool required was a hammer.

Just two of the corner braces were adjustable by means of barrel bolts.

A close up of the overflow pipe - bell ended rather like a locomotive chimney. We need to conserve this and the other pipework, and maybe use them for drainage once we establish if this is viable.
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Further images show
1. The tank looking north showing how trees alongside the building are obscuring the view up Ribblesdale
towards Pen-y-Ghent.

2. The main outlet. We shall need to cover this with a grille of some sort.

3. A couple of rows of the 'the meadow' have been removed.It can be seen how
the water puddles in the base plates.

4. Looking towards the north east. Trees obscure the view.

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Inside the tank before clearance

This is a view across the width of the tank from the top of the access ladder showing the collapsed remains of a wooden walkway and handrails. A joist hanger on the far side is seen to the right of the transverse rail. The pipe flange to the left is the top of the water inlet pipe. Presumably it had further pipework - and possibly a float valve bolted to the flange.

The floor of the tank is something of a wild flower meadow.

Structural engineer Andrew Wood is standing on one of the corner braces. He is a six footer and this gives an idea of scale. The tank sides are six feet tall (two 3 foot plates one atop the other).

In the corner is the overflow pipe.

The bracings inside the tank are:
- cross braces to resist the outward pressure of water on the tank sides
- diagonal braces connecting the tank floor and sides
- less easily seen corner braces
- each cross brace has two vertical posts

The square holes along the top of the tank sides may have provided fixing points for railings or other equipment. The tank side plates all have flanges perforated by these holes at 6" centres. Some of the side plates are specials, where fixing lugs are cast in for the attachment of bracing rods.

The joints between plates are caulked by about 1/2" of whatever-it-is. I am told they used a mixture of putty, tar, iron filings and sulphuric acid, which produced a watertight seal as the mixure expanded. We need to verify this and shall almost certainly have to tackle this concoction when some base plates are removed for access, skylights etc.

One tank base plate was cleared of vegetation to expose the make up of the tank base.

Each base plate is 4 feet square, bolted to its neighbours at 6 inch intervals through vertical flanges 3 inches high. This means that the tank does not dry out, except in prolonged hot weather as rainwater puddles in each 4 foot square dish.

It can be seen that the vegetation has a high proportion of moss.
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