Campden Hill Water Tower

For many years Associated-Redifussion used the old ‘Water Tower’ at Kensington as an Outside Broadcast terminal for the 7 cm links. As its acquisition and history was a curious one, the story may amuse.

While we were working on the plans for Television House and Wembley, I was approached by a gentleman from the Metropolitan Water Board, who enquired whether we would like to hire the tower as a support for ourdishes. He explained that his colleagues wanted to pull it down, but he felt most strongly it should be preserved. Most water towers of this sort are getting rare, also the great writer C.K.Chesterton, a master of English prose had set the last scenes of his novel ‘The Napoleon of Notting Hill’ in the streets around the tower, and it would serve as a memorial to him! In those days I was a great admirer of CKC, when I was at college I used to belong to his ‘Distributists’ and take CKs Weekly. We used to meet in the Devereux in Fleet St. watched by the Special Branch as subversives. As I knew the book pretty well I was able to quote him the end lines of the dedicatory poem to Belloc:-

This legend of an early hour
A child I dreamed, and dream it still,
Undre the great grey water-tower
That strikes the stars on Campden Hill.

After this effort I managed to rent the place very cheaply. However the next problem was the tower’s condition. One of the engineers volunteered to the top and see. Primed with several pints at the local he went up the decayed stairs as far as they went, and then up rungs, the last ten badly rusted, and appeared in triumph astride the top wall. He wad next observed hammering the bricks with his fist. On his return he reported a single brick top, good lime mortar somewhat weathered.

These Victorian ‘Water Towers’ house the hairpin shaped pipework some yard or so in diameter, which the Beam Engineers pumped into, it seems they need good back pressure. The hairpin shaped pipe system was mounted vertically, it was some 120 ft high and the brickwork continued on for another 80 ft to keep the weather off it. It was open at the top just like a giant chimney.
The builders cast two 15 ft slabs to make a room at the top, without any work at all on the ancient brickwork. I was assured it was quite safe, but whenever I visited the place in later years, I had visions of a quick decent of the two slabs with me in the middle, the meat in the sandwich. They lasted our time with no failure. The builders also swept away the old wooden stairs and erected a steel pipe supported stair. What his did to the local Television pictures was quit amazing, we had the finest radiator and ghost in London. Many were the moans, but the pipework was removed which helped a lot. As there was a local legend your could see the towers of Windsor Castle from the top in the clear light of dawn, various locals were invited to have a look. In fact you could not.

It gave us good service. When AR lost the licence, the then Water Board pulled it down. I believe a block of flats now adorns the site. C.K.Chesterton will have to rely on his literature to be remembered.

Eric Vast – July 1994.

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Popular pages

Get your amateur radio licence - Find out more about amateur radio licence training.
Month on the Air - G3MGQ's popular monthly DX contest/expedition list.
Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup - The clubs annual operating event in the memory of Wilf Gaye M0GYE.
St. Richard's College Buildathon/STEM/ARISS - HERC attends St. Richard's Catholic College for their various events surrounding the Tim Peake ARISS contact.
G3BDQ - John Hey's Rare QSL Cards.
Sussex Electronics Radio Fair - SERF Sussex Electronics Radio Fair 2016.
Vital Spark - A selection of articles re-published from the Vital Spark.
RSGB News - Find out how to get RSGB news on your mobile or PC.
Experimenters Corner - A selection of Proteus projects by Bob Gornal (G7DME)
BBADL - Bath Based Distance Learning Course.
Conquest Hospital Radio - Presented by HERC member Antony (G4CUS).
Radio Rallies 2016 - An up to date list of radio rallies scheduled for 2016.
Club QSL Cards - A selection of QSL cards the club has received over the years.
Other Newsletters - Excellent newsletters and magazines from other clubs.
TX Factor episodes - Take a look at the TX Factors YouTube videos.
John Taplin - A bio of the late John Taplin.

Amateur Radio Resources

Other Radio Clubs & RAYNET

BSARS - Brede Steam Amateur Radio Society

RAYNET - The Hastings and Rother RAYNET Group.

HERC members sites

Sigord - Gordon Sweet
Hastings Radio Comms - Andrew Haas-Campbell
Hoofbags - Liz Costa

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