Gawthorpe Water Tower


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
2 Chidswell Lane, Ossett, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF5 9AZ


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Statutory Address:
2 Chidswell Lane, Ossett, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF5 9AZ

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wakefield (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Concrete water tower, now disused, constructed in 1922-1928.

Reasons for Designation

Gawthorpe Water Tower, constructed in 1922-1928, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it has a strikingly elegant neoclassical design executed in reinforced concrete that is atypical in its level of detailing and aesthetic treatment; * it is a prominent landmark structure that makes a strong architectural statement reflecting civic pride; * it compares favourably with other listed water towers nationally and is a distinguished example of a municipal water tower.

Historic interest:

* it is an important physical reminder of the significant advancements in health and sanitation made in the latter half of the C19 and early C20, and developments in public water supply provision.


Before the 1870s there was no public water supply in Ossett and private wells were inadequate and heavily polluted. In the 1870s the Local Board of Health proposed a piped water supply, the provision of drainage, and a sewage works. Water was initially brought from Batley and stored in a covered reservoir constructed at Gawthorpe in 1876. However, Ossett still lacked a permanent water source and the demands of businesses and an increasing population led the town council to enter into a 30-year contract with the Dewsbury and Heckmondwike Waterworks Board in 1907 to take water from its reserves. As demand grew further the Board was unable to supply enough water for Ossett and a new source was required. An Act of Parliament in 1922 enabled the provision of a new water supply and the former Pildacre Colliery was selected as the site for a waterworks. In 1910 the colliery had suffered a devastating flood and subsequently closed, and it was this floodwater that became Ossett's new water source.

Pildacre Waterworks was constructed between 1922 and 1928 at a cost of £48,667, and was opened on 25 February 1928 by Councillor J H Moorhouse, Chairman of the Ossett Water Committee. During the same period Gawthorpe Water Tower was constructed approximately 1.25 miles away to the north, adjacent to the covered Gawthorpe Reservoir off Chidswell Lane. The tower is similar in design to the water tower in Newton le Willows, Merseyside (1904, now demolished), which was designed by Reed and Waring, consulting engineers, and constructed by Cubitts and Co. Water was drawn up from the former mine workings and pumped to the tower from the waterworks by two engines known as Maud and Edith where it was used to store drinking water for the village of Gawthorpe. A further covered reservoir was constructed to the south of the tower in the late C20.

By the early 1970s the water source at Pildacre had almost dried up, and from 1974 water was instead brought from Fixby Water Treatment Works, Huddersfield and the waterworks at Pildacre closed. Gawthorpe Water Tower ceased active use for water storage in around 2006, but it remains in use in 2020 as a host for telecommunications equipment.


Water tower, now disused, constructed in 1922-1928.

MATERIALS: reinforced concrete.

PLAN: the tower is circular in plan and is located on the west side of Chidswell Lane to the north-east of a late-C19 covered reservoir and to the north of a late-C20 covered reservoir.

EXTERIOR: not inspected, information from other sources. The tower is of four stages and has a low single-storey drum-shaped base with a central deeply recessed band and a doorway on the north side with an eared and shouldered architrave and a modern metal door. The base is also now topped by modern palisade fencing* set around the edge, which is not of special interest. The second, and tallest, stage consists of a circular shaft rising from the centre of the base, surrounded by concentric pillars, which are braced to the central shaft and to each other. The pillars support the water tank above, which is of a larger diameter, and square in plan with a simple cornice and kicked-out feet. Arches spring from the uppermost sections where the pillars rise to meet the underside of the tank and give the appearance of an arcade. Attached to some of the pillars and horizontal braces is modern cabling and telecommunications equipment* (this modern equipment is not of special interest). The tank at the third stage, which has a capacity of 200,000 gallons or nearly 1 million litres, has recessed panelling with a moulded fascia and cornice below, and a plain frieze above. The tank has an overhanging shallow conical roof surmounted by a tall domed cupola with a ball finial and an arcaded drum.

* Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.


Ossett's Water Supplies, accessed 21 October 2020 from


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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