Water tower under review

The Cambridge Water Tower, built in 1903, is being assessed for its risk of collapse in an earthquake following new national guidelines introduced last year. Photo – Michael Jeans.

The future of the historic Cambridge Water Tower is up in the air, with council advising they are currently assessing the structural integrity of the tower.

The move follows the introduction of national guidelines around earthquake-prone buildings introduced last year, with the assessment including advice from structural engineers. The Waipa District Council’s Group Manager – Business Support, Ken Morris, said that once the assessment has been completed – expected to be within the next three to four months –  options for the future of the iconic tower will be considered.  “These options are likely to include investing money in strengthening the tower (costs still unknown) or demolishing the tower.

“Before any decision is made, community consultation will take place. Any demolition of the tower would also require application of a resource consent (and the accompanying public process that goes with that),” he concluded.

The water tower, which stands in front of Resthaven on Payne Park by Hamilton Rd, was built in 1903 for £1,077. The contractor was J J Holland, and George Russell Fellows was the bricklayer. Robert Morse helped to build the tower and with his horse raised the bricks by pulley, 80 feet to the top. Water was pumped from the Moon Creek springs (beside the gasworks) to the 20,000-gallon tank on the top of the tower, supplying the town with water until the tower was closed in 1926.

It has Historic Place Category 2 listing, meaning it has been identified as having historic or cultural significance or value.  The list is an information tool, however, and does not give automatic protection.  The tower is also listed as a Category B structure under the Waipa District Plan, which means that it is recognised as having regional and district-wide significance. The band rotunda at the Te Koo Utu domain, the clock tower in the CBD and the Masonic Hotel on Duke St are among other Category B-listed structures in Appendix N1 of the Waipa District Plan.

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