Your chance to own a local piece of history plus a unique, dream home.
Old water towers are something of a familiar sight, effusing an air of mystery and a sense of curiosity. Dotting the skylines of towns and cities across the country, abandoned towers can become derelict eyesores once they cease to be useful - their historic and cultural value often preventing them from being torn down. The creative owners of the old water tower that used to serve Ormskirk Hospital, however, have transformed the property into two stunning homes that you could own, allowing Ormskirk to retain its historic tower in an interesting, innovative, and productive way.
Learn more about the development of these two luxury properties below!
The water tower is a well-known landmark of Ormskirk and can be seen from miles away on a clear day. Designed by Liverpool architects Culshaw & Sumners in 1839 to provide water to the Poor Law Union workhouse which became Ormskirk Hospital in the 1950s, it was originally built in the 1850s by Wigan ironfounders Swift & House Ltd. Over the course of its 140-year working life, the tower was essential to the running and heating of the workhouse, and later hospital, as recently as the 1980s and 1990s.
Taller than most of the buildings around it, the tower provides stunning views as far as Blackpool and the Cumbrian Hills - captured perfectly by our drone operator and photographer.
Our client acquired the building in 2011 with the intention of breathing a new lease of life into this stunning structure. Repurposed as luxury apartments, topped by the original cast-iron water tank which forms the third level of the uppermost home, The Water Tower is of particular architectural interest due to its original features including, side projectile pipes, arched windows, and original iron beams. Complete with private parking, a serene fenced garden, an elevator serving the upper Apartment, and a spacious 1053 - 1144 square feet of living, these apartments offer a chance to inhabit your own personal slice of history while living in comfort and security.
These apartments have already gained a lot of buzz and it's easy to understand why. The Tower won the Conversion Category of the West Lancashire Design Awards in 2019 proving that it serves as a fantastic example of how innovative and inspired architecture can really re-vitalise and transform a period property.
We spoke to Mike and Nicky Jones of CJ Developments, who took on the mammoth task of transforming The Water Tower alongside their business partner John Crooks:
Q. What was it about The Water Tower that inspired you?
It was a real Grand Designs moment really… We went out one day to buy a sofa and came back with the idea to buy The Water Tower instead! We didn’t set out to take on a regeneration project but when we drove past The Water Tower we immediately saw its potential, and it stuck in our minds until we, along with our business partner John, decided to take the leap.
It was not all about financial gain with these homes - water towers around the UK so often become dilapidated and ignored, and we wanted to help breathe some life into this historic part of the town and enable the Tower to last for hundreds of years to come. We wanted to be able to create a property that would be restored sympathetically, and respectfully, something that would fit with and complement the skyline of Ormskirk.
Q. What did you retain? How sympathetic were you when designing?
When we started the project we invited some local Ormskirk Historians to the property to take a tour and discuss its prior use within the community. We wanted to learn as much as possible about the site so that we could be truly sympathetic to the structure and really encapsulate and retain the industrial feel of the building.
We could have done things a lot cheaper, but we thought that it was important to ensure the longevity of those stand-out features - for instance, the original arched windows were all made using hand cut bricks, and we chose to restore each unit using bespoke frames and glazing. This took longer to fit, but the windows are now some of our favourite parts of the Tower and helped to retain the Victorian grandeur of the property.
If you take a walk around the property you will notice that we have kept original features, such as the water valve outside of Apartment Two. We also found original sandstone masonry which we have repurposed to form part of the seating area in the garden - these may have even pre-dated the original construction of The Water Tower.
Q. What is your favourite feature of the property?
Well the cast iron tank itself of course stands out; you can see the base internally on the top floor of the uppermost apartment. The tank also stands out against the skyline of Ormskirk, as it has done for nearly 200 years.
That being said, we’re also incredibly proud of the bright living spaces. The majority of the rooms have windows from two aspects allowing beautiful natural light. The windows combined with the height of the property also mean that, on a sunny day, you can look out to Blackpool and see the Blackpool Tower. Even during the winter months you can enjoy the snowy vistas of the Cumbrian Hills, and Bonfire Night is truly a spectacle to behold!
Q. Did the people of Ormskirk support the project?
We had so much support on this project and we wanted to keep the local community as engaged as possible - The Water Tower is an important part of Ormskirk’s history and we wanted to honour that.
We worked with as many local businesses as possible, and they each brought enthusiasm and insight when transforming the space. Our team of people and businesses were all incredibly helpful as we had not taken on a task like this before. From architect Matt Wood, to the steel fabricators Touchline Fabrications Ltd, everybody seemed to love the character and the potential of the old building, and it quickly became a project of passion for everyone involved.
We have since invited neighbours to view the property so that they can appreciate the work and care that has gone into it, and we have even been recognised by the local council who awarded us with a West Lancashire Design Award in 2019.
Q. Mike, would you consider a similar project in the future?
I’m not sure about Nicky or John, but I think it could be on the horizon. This project was definitely a learning curve, and I’m not afraid to say that it took longer than I first expected! Even so, the Tower has been well worth the time devoted to it. Who else can say that they had the privilege to own and care for such a unique and historic build as this?
Why not take a 360° tour of these amazing flats!