Tue 31 Mar 2015
Building Opinions: Robert Nemeth’s Foredown Tower Update
Several themes come together to make a visit to Foredown Tower a fascinating experience. The building began as a water tower for an adjoining isolation hospital. Only a boundary wall survives. The tower was served by a nearby underground reservoir that lives on in the area today. A distinctive beam engine (like that of the Engineerium) beside the reservoir, which is remembered by volunteer Mike Feist, is gone though.
The water tower was saved by Hove Borough Council and reopened in 1991 as a countryside centre with a camera obscura. Everyone should see the camera in action at least once, and many local school children do as a matter of course. The countryside centre is gone which is in itself curious, as the South Downs National Park is famously inaccessible (or, at least, thought of as inaccessible by many local residents).
J. Every of Lewes (see their names on drain covers thoughout the city) made the 116 cast iron panels that form the old water tank at the top which, with a raised pitched roof, form a large room. Electric shutters close to allow the camera to operate. An image is projected onto a large disc in the middle of the room. At a glance, it looks like a standard picture. On closer inspection, it can be seen as a live reproduction of what is outside. Seagulls fly across the sky and cars skim across the bypass.
Two distinct groups make Foredown Tower work. The first is the volunteers, including gardeners and long-term Foredown Tower champion Mike Feist, who work so hard to make a visit pleasurable for all who come. The second is the nearby Portslade Aldridge Community who use the building as an adult learning centre. Visit on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to see the camera in action.