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If, like me you have ever sipped on a latte in an inner city Paddington café, walked along its hilly streets or looked through the windows of the fashionable boutique shops, chances are you may have looked up and spotted an historic water tower watching over the city. Seeing this stately structure, with commanding views over Brisbane encouraged me to find out a little more about it and to understand its past.
The history of the Tower
After a little bit of research, I found that the Paddington Water Tower was built in 1927 on Archibald's Hill. The circular tank is supported on a structural framework of twelve columns and octagonal grids of haunched beams, making it a rare and unique design.
The water tower is 70 feet (21.34 metres) high, the tank has a capacity of 100,000 gallons (.38 megalitre) and the top water level is 335 feet (102.1 metres).
The Tramway Department provided electricity for the centrifugal pump to propel water from the tank, and the residents living high on the many hills of Paddington were provided with running water.
The tower was described as the finest piece of work constructed by any authority and at the time was the most expensive single structure ever to have been constructed in the Town of Ithaca (source: Wikipedia).
To ensure its survival, the Paddington Water Tower was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register on 23 June 2000. It provides an example of inter-war architecture of the time.
Who has lived next to the tower? The tower has had some famous neighbours including Sir Arthur Rutledge (1843-1917), a Minister, barrister, Queensland politician and judge who lived in the street. But perhaps the most infamous is former Police Commissioner Terry Lewis who was convicted and jailed for corruption and forgery as a result of the Fitzgerald Inquiry. He once lived next to the tower at 12 Garfield Drive.
Sir Arthur Rutledge photo courtesy of Lost Brisbane
Where can I see it?
As well as getting up close in Garfield Drive, longer range views of the tower can be seen from Latrobe Terrace and Rockbourne Terrace.
While the tower is no longer in use, it stands proudly over Brisbane as a reminder and landmark to our city's history. So, if you are looking for somewhere to go on a Sunday afternoon walk, a wander through Paddington and an up-close look at the water tower might bring some of the past into the present.