Folklore Siward's Howe Water Tower

The water tower on Siward's Howe (the thing that looks like a castle) has been there since 1955. It was built to serve the rapidly expanding population of York at that time. The Fine Arts Commission had a say in the design, following a great deal of controversy, and the original builders were bankrupted by the work which had to be completed by another firm. The tower held one million gallons of water and was the largest elevated tank in the country when built. In 1977 a ten million gallon covered reservoir was constructed alongside it to supplement the supply. (Source:Heslington - a Portrait of the Village, Alfred Colley.)

The tower is no longer used for water, as Pete Simpson tells us:

I can enlighten you further on Siwards Howe: I've actually been inside.

At the moment, it does not contain any water - all of the machinery which used to be responsible for pumping the water has been partially dismantled and fell into disrepair years ago. It was made obsolete a good while back (no exact date, I'm afraid) and it is now used as a storage facitily for Yorkshire Water's hardware (spare pipes, digging equipment, etc.)

I found this out in the summer of 1995 when I noticed a lot of activity going on and managed to persuade the site manager to let me have a quick peek inside. I wish I'd had my camera with me!


14/4/2002. Robert Gipson got in touch with the following:

"I can put you to rights regarding Siwards How water tower. As a plant engineer working for Yorkshire water and with 27 years service with the previous York Water Works Co, I should know a thing or to.

True, it looks more like a castle.

But unless there is a larger one constructed in the last few years I do still believe it is the largest water tower in europe. The water is held in the tank at the top...... 1,000,000 galls or 4.5 million Ltrs when full. And has been in use since it was constructed in 1956 ( I think ). The water is held at the high level to give a large area of York the pressure they are used to.

It is true that the area below the tank is used for storage. It is amazing how much we can store in that area!

I do believe the name "Siwards how" has originated from one of the Roman bosses that controlled our area and that How means mound. It is certainly on a high spot.! The roman connection is hearsay. I have not seen anything in print regarding it.

Someone once mentioned that three workers died building it, but once again I have not seen proof. It is certainly a spooky place in the dead of night!

Enough for now.

Must get the facts right"

And then again, after further research, Robert uncovered this:

Siward , d. 1055, earl of Northumbria. A Danish warrior, he probably came to England with King Canute. At the behest of King Harthacanute in 1041 he ravaged Worcestershire and perhaps murdered Eadwulf of Northumbria; thereafter he was himself earl of Northumbria. He supported Edward the Confessor against Earl Godwin in 1051 and in 1054 defeated Macbeth, king of Scotland, on behalf of Siward's nephew, later Malcolm III.

It appears I may be wrong re: the Roman connection. Them I`m no histrorian ! If he is the one, then I am wondering what the connection is to Siwards How near the uni !

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