Case study: Old Hall Lane, Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, CO14 8LE (East of England)
List entry number: 1165846
Background and history
The Naze Tower was built in 1720 by Trinity House as a navigational tower for sea-farers. It stands 86ft high and worked in conjunction with another tower on the opposite side of Harwich harbour.
The Tower has a colourful maritime and wartime history. It was used as a lookout post during the Napoleonic and First World Wars. During the Second World War it became a radar station. Equipment was installed through new openings in the upper floors and supported by steel ties.
It was only sold by Trinity House, a maritime charity, in the 1990s. It was opened to the public for the first time in 2004 by the current owners. It now runs as an art gallery, tea room and educational focus point for The Naze headland.
Is it at risk?
Yes. It was added to the Heritage at Risk Register this year.
After the WWII radar equipment was removed, the tower was repaired and openings bricked up.
Since then severe cracks have developed running almost the length of the tower. The replacement bricks have aggravated differential movement in the structure. The steel ties used to support the radar have now rusted and pushed the bricks apart.
Re-pointing in non-breathable cement mortar in the 1970s resulted in severe excess dampness in the structure. Moisture was trapped in the brickwork, causing internal mould, window failure and structural weakness.
What's the current situation?
Inappropriate non-breathable paint was removed from the interior of all eight floors by the owners. This allowed the building to begin to dry out.
A grant application for £86,000 was awarded for urgent external repairs. These include the removal of unsuitable mortar, structural repairs to the cracks and re-pointing in lime-based, breathable mortars. This will enable the building to 'breathe'. Atmospheric moisture absorbed through the bricks can now expel through the joints. If moisture gets trapped in the cement joints it will exit through the bricks and overtime, blow the facings.
The tower is now fully scaffolded and work is underway. The tower remains open to the public.