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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 29 - Autumn 1976
Watford Water Tower
The Watford Saga - Bob Randall and Ray Hedley
It has arrived at last! The water tower from Watford pictured in the Spring 1976 Quainton News is now safely at our depot. It all started in the dead of night on Saturday 5th June with the help of Mr Ball and his merry men plus a really hefty road crane, encouraged by four onlookers as witnesses.
Ray had a phone call from London Transport about ten days before the eventful weekend. They told him he should arrange the job for the 5th and that the 'juice' would be cut off the two up lines at Watford at 0055 hrs.
When Ray arrived the tower looked very dramatic standing floodlit at the end of the platform. Shrouded in scaffolding it gave the impression of being a space ship ready for count down from mission control! Work on dismantling started straight away but at first the tank was quite determined to stay at Watford and it required many attempts by the heavy crane, many applications of the blow torch and much verbal persuasion to induce it to part company with the column. Finally, at 0500 hrs we had 'lift off'. Cheers and handshakes all round! Next it was the turn of the column to follow the tank over the fence and this was successfully accomplished in under an hour. By this time Roy Miller, Bob Mellish and Ray Horsley, who had worked all night were away home and Ray had been joined by Guy Heap. Cameras clicked and cine's whirred.
At shortly after 0700 hrs, Fountains arrived with their 40 foot long flat trailer and Bob Randall joined the action with some more tools. In two hours the tank and the column plus all the other bits and pieces were aboard the trailer and the load was ready for rolling. To the observer it all looked very odd. Pointing skywards from the 'thing' was the bracket arm! It stuck up from the drum shaped tank to a height of nearly 15½ feet! Many a pedestrian looked mystified.
Off we went at 0915 for Quainton with Bob Randall riding 'shot gun' in true Western style, acting as pilot and warning the driver of any potential problems such as bridges and overhead cables enroute.
Some motorists may not have appreciated the unusual load but we didn't hesitate in stealing a little free publicity by having our usual spot of advertising on the side of the tank!
The first leg of the journey was easy. We followed the main road to Rickmansworth and then travelled along the A404 to Amersham which goes under the railway at Chalfont & Latimer station. This bridge gives the first impression of having plenty of clearance under its beams but we didn't have a chance with our super load so we took a diversion through suburbia, crossed the railway by an overbridge, and after some adventures with some wires, we duly arrived in the centre of Amersham. The usual route to Aylesbury wasn't a proposition because there is that awkward low bridge at Little Kingshill so Bob made a quick 'recce' up the hill towards Chesham and found a bridge with enough headroom; about 2in clearance!
This was the most tricky part of the journey completed. Onwards to Great Missenden, Wendover and round Aylesbury to the east was reasonably straightforward, at least as far as Whitchurch, where a lot of energy was expended in handing wires over the tank bracket arm.
It was a feeling of great achievement to arrive in Quainton up yard without any major crisis having occurred and we all watched the mobile crane lift the load from the trailer with a sense of satisfaction. The Watford water tower had reached its new home where it will be returned to serve steam once more.
What shall we move next? A nice signal box? Come on you lads in the S & T! Just for the record, the pipe from the tank was cast by Ransome and Rapier & Co. Ltd, Ipswich and the bracketed bend came from the Risca Foundry Ltd, Newport, Mon., and the date is 1911.
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 11 November 2017