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Heritage experts and MP visit unique water tower

By August 23, 2022No Comments
Inside the darkened building a group of men stand in a patch of light. Three of them wear high-vis jackets. One is crouching down by a collection of chalk drawings on the floor.

Experts from Historic England have toured Jumbo, Colchester’s unique Victorian water tower, with the town’s MP, Will Quince.

The visit to the Grade ll* listed building was organised by North Essex Heritage which has leased it for 150 years. The charity’s Jumbo Project for the restoration, conservation and renaissance of the iconic building at the historic Balkerne Gate entrance to the city is gathering support. It plans to convert the 34-metre tower, which is of national heritage importance, into a destination venue, restaurant, visitor experience and historical interpretation space for everyone to enjoy.

 Thanks to £1m from We Are Colchester’s Town’s Deal Fund bid and continued support from Historic England and the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF), the future is bright for the Jumbo Project. It is hoped that an application will be made to the National Lottery Heritage Fund in early 2023.

Colchester MP Will Quince was joined by Tony Calladine, East of England Regional Director, Historic England and Domenico d’Alessandro, Heritage at Risk Architect/Surveyor at Historic England.

The MP said: “It was brilliant to meet representatives of North Essex Heritage and Historic England for a tour of Jumbo.

“I am proud to have helped secure £1m from the Government’s Town’s Deal Fund to kick start the exciting restoration and redevelopment plans.”

“Jumbo has sat unused, unloved and largely derelict for decades. We now have an exciting opportunity, leveraging the £1m of Government funding, to raise further circa £4m needed to restore and redevelop Jumbo into not just a heritage attraction, but a destination for everyone.”

Tony Calladine, East of England Regional Director, Historic England, said: “It was great to meet Will Quince MP at Jumbo with the team at North Essex Heritage. I was delighted to see the progress made at this important local landmark, and proud that Historic England has been, and continues to be, on this remarkable journey to revitalise this extraordinary structure. I’m looking forward to seeing the next stage of plans to restore and repurpose Jumbo so it can be visited and enjoyed by local people and visitors and help to regenerate this part of Colchester.”

North Essex Heritage is organising community activities as part of Jumbo Summer 2022. One major event will see Jumbo being opened to a limited number of pre-booked visitors for the national Heritage Open Days in September. Details will be announced soon.

North Essex Heritage Chairman Simon Hall MBE DL said: “Jumbo has been the talk of the town since 1883 and the time has come to celebrate this magnificent piece of Victorian industrial heritage and let everyone enjoy it. In the next few weeks and months, we hope to involve even more people in Jumbo Summer 2022 events so they can learn about and celebrate this important part of our city.”

Last month, Councillor Professor Pam Cox, Colchester Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Culture and Heritage, enjoyed the best view in the city when she visited Jumbo. Professor Cox was joined by Philip Wise, Heritage Manager at Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service.

Volunteers recently took on the big task of cleaning the inside the water tower as part of North Essex Heritage’s Jumbo Summer 2022 community activities at the landmark.

Twelve volunteers joined representatives of the charity to clean the building to get it ready for visitors. A major event of the summer will involve Jumbo being opened to a limited number of pre-booked visitors for the national Heritage Open Days in September.

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