Friday, 29 January 2021

Brick Water Tower - A Landmark of Numurkah

Brick Water Tower, Numurkah c.1890
unknown photographer, State Library Victoria

This year I have decided to follow the monthly blogging prompts of the Society of One Place Studies. Prompts will be a different topic each month. My One Place Study is Numurkah, a town in north eastern Victoria. It was declared a town in 1875, and the first land sales occurred in 1878, the same year my Irish great, great grandfather, Jeremiah McAuliffe selected land and settled with his family at Katunga on Numurkah's outskirts. The prompt for January is Landmarks and I have chosen the Brick Water Tower.

The Brick Water Tower was built in 1888 on the west bank of the Broken Creek. Initially Numurkah's water supply had come from a lagoon in the Creek (sometimes referred to as Baala Creek, the aboriginal name) and a well on the south-west corner of Gray and Quinn Streets outside the Bible Christian parsonage. The lagoon was often dry and, with the population growing from 96 in 1881 to 1011 in 1891, a more reliable water supply was needed. Tenders were called for in October 1888 for a water tank, tower, engine house and settling tanks. The 70 foot tower was constructed using 70,000 bricks and was finished with an iron tank on top.

The height of the water tower also made it a useful vantage point to take photographs for postcards of the growing town as can be seen below:-

Numurkah from Water Tower, c.1907
Shirley Jones collection of Victorian postcards
State Library Victoria

Broken Creek in Flood from Water Tower, c.1908
Shirley Jones collection of Victorian postcards
State Library of Victoria

Moira Shire, Stage Two Heritage Study 2007, identified the Water Tower, a footbridge and the showgrounds as culturally significant places built between 1880 & 1900 in what they classified as the Recreational Precinct of Numurkah. They noted the Water Tower demonstrated original and early design qualities associated with water infrastructure development of Numurkah. The Study also stated:- 

"The materials and workmanship seen in the significant timber bridge and brick and iron water tower infrastructure are technically important and increasingly rare examples in Numurkah."

This Recreation precinct now has a Heritage Overlay and it is Shire policy to retain the significant buildings in the precinct, so the Brick Water Tower should be a landmark for many years to come.

The Footbridge over the Broken Creek
 with Brick Water Tower 


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