Some anecdotes about the Tower from my own memory, and from some of the old villagers :-
I remember the landmark of the Water Tower from an early age. It stood up on the horizon as I looked out of my bedroom window, and I could even see it sitting up in bed. We lived at that time in a three storied house in Devonshire Avenue, on the other side of the valley. After War was declared the house became one end of a Home Guard telephone line linking some of the local units.
Telephone cable was in short supply, and a link was needed with the Coleshill Platoon, who had the task, amongst others of guarding the Water Tower from saboteurs.. My father had been a Navy signaller in the First World War, and he was given the task of setting up a light link with Coleshill. The Water Tower was the obvious place for one end, and our top floor was the other. He already had two Aldis Lamps that he had used with the local Scout Troop, and these were pressed into service.
Men with Morse Code competence were few, and a training programme was set up. Our dining room table was the scene of a bizarre situation as my brother and myself (aged 9 and 7) joined my father in flashing messages across the table to no doubt bemused Home Guard members. He had been teaching us Morse Code in lieu of bedtime stories for some time.
A regular exchange of messages took place across the valley during the early part of the war, until the necessity gradually faded.
I talked to Mr Tappin who lived along Tower Road, and was then in his eighties, about the building of the Tower. Perhaps first it is necessary to mention Kiln Farm with it’s cottages, which disappeared beneath the main road just opposite the Coleshill turning when the road was straightened. The farm house was right on the road edge, and behind it the ground fell away abruptly, so that the farm yard was perhaps 15 feet lower than the road. Both sides of the coombe beyond were steep slopes which have now been hidden by the tipping of spoil for several years, raising the floor of the valley.
To the left side of the farm house, and built into the side of the hill below the present wood was the kiln. This was described by Mr Tappin as the largest he had ever seen. It was said that a horse and cart could go inside and turn before coming out. The top of this kiln can still be seen in the corner of the wood. Thirty years ago one could see a clear circle of brickwork about five feet in diameter marking the top of the chimney, but now it is more jumbled.
Mr Tappin said that the spoil from digging out the foundations for the Tower was dumped into the top of the kiln, as this was by then disused. To effect this a small railway line was laid across the road, and trucks pushed across with the soil. He said that the work force was partly made up of German Prisoners of War.
Excerpt from “Coleshill Recollections” :-
(An evening of reminiscences from the older residents of the village in 1985).
Mr Pusey , a local farmer (in answer to a question) - “Yes they ran a small gauge railway across the road and we had the tipping trucks; we had a man working for us, with a horse leading these things across the road and I remember them saying that apparently one of these trucks tipped over and went down in the well - in the hole, and pulled the horse with it. I think they managed to get the horse out alive but he was seriously injured and I forget who it was, one of the boys working in the village, his mother came along to my father and said “Don’t you send that boy there any more!”.
Bert Aldridge was a near neighbour in Barracks Hill in the village, and he related that as a boy he could remember the completion of the Water Tower. He admitted that he and his friends had felt that the high windows provided a challenge that could not be ignored. There was a quick competition with their catapults to see who was the best shot.
Chris Wege (1998)