Stop 3: Chislehurst Water Tower
A Water Tower straddled the top of Summer Hill in Chislehurst for more than a hundred years. George Wythes built it in 1860 as a gateway to his new Bickley Park Estate. Wythes was a wealthy man, a developer who had made his fortune in the construction of railways. Above the pedestrian archway, on each face of the Tower, was his coat of arms, carved in stone. There was living accommodation in the Tower, accessed via steep stone stairs.
When Summer Hill was opened up as a public road, traffic in both directions, including buses and wagons, had to negotiate through the narrow archway (see picture below). There was nothing else like it in the country.
The Water Tower was demolished in 1963 when Chislehurst and Sidcup Urban District Council decided, in the face of much local opposition, that it needed to make way for easier traffic flow. The coats of arms were saved after the demolition, and one was incorporated in the Memorial that was eventually built, in 1975, at the top of Summer Hill, where the western end of the Tower once stood. Some would like to see the Tower rebuilt not least as a traffic calming measure! More images of the Water Tower..
The Water Tower, shortly before demolition (are the last residents moving out here?)