CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe for £25 today CLICK HERE

Restoration: A towering challenge

PUBLISHED: 12:31 19 April 2011 | UPDATED: 21:33 20 February 2013

Photograph by TUDOR MORGAN-OWEN

Photograph by TUDOR MORGAN-OWEN

Richard Bryson meets a builder untaking a restoration project with a difference

Richard Bryson meets a builder untaking a restoration project with a difference




He may be telling me this while builders scurry back and forth around half-built walls but Mark Williamson has set himself a deadline for the completion of his dream home.
We want to be enjoying Christmas dinner here, he says, with a wry smile. Paula, his partner, is counting down the days to using her new kitchen.
Here is a 19th century watertower standing in a preservation area on the outskirts of Culford, near Bury St Edmunds. Once it supplied water to Culford School but has not been used since the late seventies.
When Mark, who runs Norson Construction Ltd of Stowmarket, completes the project, he will have a unique five-bedroom home on four floors with a large ground floor kitchen and open plan living space above, with sweeping views of open countryside and forest beyond. Working late at the site Mark has already seen deer and heard the hoot of owls and foxes barking,
Twenty years ago I tried to buy a watertower at Holbrook. I didnt have the funds and the scheme fell flat so when this one came up I jumped at the chance. You get the height and the views with a watertower and that really appeals to me. Whats more this one is redbrick rather than concrete.
A chap in a pub pointed out the advert for it in the East Anglian Daily Times last year and I had to make a sealed bid for the property, it cost me 280,000. Dealing with two vendors the school (who owned the tower) and a local farmer, who owns the field, were able to parcel up the plot to make it all workable.
It will be a challenge, and financially a risk, because no-one can tell me what it will be worth when its finished!
Mark even has family members helping on the project including his daughter, Carly (26) and his ex-stepson, with Paula and her boys at weekends.
If the construction business picks up we will spend more on it. As a builder I can be very critical. Ive never done a self-build but with the tower its already here so just needs adapting. Im after a certain kind of floor tile, flush showers without screens, granite worktops and windowboards...Im going to be very particular, he says.
Has he encountered any difficulties so far? Well, previously the tower was holding 175 tonnes of water and wind could blow through the brick arches, but with the windows in, and no water in the tank, the brick pillars could snap in the gale so an inner steel frame has been designed to support the pillars.
Mark also plans to landscape the area, adding a vegetable garden, and converting a workshop into a poolhouse as well as a pumphouse into a garage.
Inside he has his heart set on a special feature, a suspended woodburner, to go with another talking point, a spiral staircase, running through the property.
Its the kind of conversion which might have attracted coverage on the TV programme Grand Designs but Mark prefers to go about this labour of love at his own pace without a film crew.
Incidentally the tower was built by the same London company who made the sphinx at Cleopatras Needle in the capital.




We are following the progress of Mark's restoration project over the coming months in EADT Suffolk magazine with a special interiors feature on the tower once work is complete

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the EADT Suffolk Magazine