North Essex Heritage has received initial* support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for their ‘Jumbo Water Tower, Uncovering the Secrets of our Heritage project’. Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to restore the unique Victorian water tower and transform it into a financially sustainable heritage and community space for Colchester.
Development funding of £250,000 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help North Essex Heritage progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant later.
Simon Hall MBE DL, Chair of North Essex Heritage, said:
“We are delighted to have received this amazing support thanks to National Lottery players. This is wonderful news for Colchester as the grant brings us closer to achieving our ambitions and solving what seemed an intractable problem of how to save Jumbo.
“Colchester has always loved Jumbo, which is an icon of our city. Now we need everyone to support us as we work towards the full development scheme which will deliver a project we can all be proud of for generations to come.
“We will now start vital restoration work, make grant applications to other organisations, and develop our proposals and partnerships. We will also seek planning permission and listed building consent.”
Completed in 1883, Jumbo was in use until 1984, but the building has deteriorated and has been on the Heritage at Risk register for 30 years. In January 2023 an inspection concluded that urgent action was needed to prevent the water tank becoming unsafe “in the comparatively near future.”
North Essex Heritage has leased the Grade II* listed Jumbo, officially known as the Balkerne Water Tower, for 150 years. It plans to restore and convert the building which is of national heritage importance. The aim is to produce a commercially viable operation which pays for the building’s upkeep. The building will be run as a destination venue, restaurant, visitor experience and historical interpretation space. The huge water tank will be an exciting mixed-use space, with a bar on the floor below. Jumbo will be a fully accessible heritage attraction, so everyone can admire the remarkable engineering and stunning views or join in community activities. Conversion work could start in summer 2024, with opening tours from Autumn 2025.
Colchester’s City Masterplan identifies Jumbo as part of a lively, creative cluster, next to the Mercury Theatre and Colchester Arts Centre.
The Jumbo Project has already been supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, the Government’s Town Deal Fund and The Architectural Heritage Fund.