The strangest conversion yet? Can a rare and forgotten 1930s water softening plant make an amazing new home?
Situated near Newnham in Kent, the reinforced concrete building consists of two circular tanks that taper towards the bottom – these were used as sedimentation tanks and sit either side of a central circulation tower. The tower is a brutal but impressive structure that stands at 13.5 metres high and each tank is 12.5 metres wide and 9 metres tall. The whole structure is reminiscent of the photos of old industrial buildings taken by German artists Bernd and Hilla Becher.
Despite a recent English Heritage survey, little is known about its history or its real importance in the context of the water industry. However, we do know that nothing like this exists within the operational area of Mid Kent Water, which covers some 2,000 Km. The plant was apparently erected at the insistence of one of the local authorities to be supplied, as they considered the water to be much too hard. It is, therefore, the only one of its kind in the county and as it was not part of a national programme, doubt is thrown upon the existence of others.
The C20th Society would like to see this structure preserved. It has stood abandoned now for over fifty years. With no viable commercial future it should be retained, not as a monument or museum but by converting it into a new home. The current owner is very keen to find an architect who will help realise this vision. The scheme will need to be excellent and very persuasive to ensure that planning permission is granted.
The C20th Society is willing to put interested practices in touch with the owner.
For further information and images please contact Claire Barrett, Caseworker, on 020 7250 3857 or email at claire.barrett(at)c20society.org.uk
For information on the English Heritage survey, please contact Jill Guthrie on 020 7973 3000. The case is being handled at Swale Borough Council by Annabel Budge on 01795 417108