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Photos by Dan Glover Page last updated: 2011-06-27

June 2011

A rather elaborately styled former water tower in an area described in a planning appeal as having "large detached dwellings set in spacious, verdant grounds". The area immediately to the south of the tower is green belt, but that all changes nearer the River Thames.

The tower is fairly well screened by trees but the main antenna support on the roof is visible over a wide radius. The site has been used for radio communications since the 1960s, with Essex Radio arriving in September 1981 and BBC Essex in November 1986. The local DAB multiplex was added in 2002.

The ground falls away very rapidly to the south, providing lots of signal towards Kent - not entirely wanted for Essex "local" stations. Recently this site has been suggested as an option for improving DAB coverage in north Kent.

The tower is now Grade II listed and owned by Shiftall Ltd, with the lower floors housing various offices.

The tower is on the bend where Benfleet Road becomes Essex Way, at the junction with Vicarage Road.

In this view we see the Band II array on the central pole, with DAB on the left hand side. The various dishes and panels on the right are apparently Hutchison 3G.

An attempt has been made to make this Lindenblad array less omini-directional by adding a reflector element (on the right). The Ofcom data shows a null to the south.

Maximum ERP for DAB is given as 290 degrees - the directional characteristics being a product of the phasing and the effect of the support pole. This suggests a new antenna would be needed to enhance coverage towards Kent.

After looking at some planning documents, it seems the local authority is now tending to object to any increase in the number of antennas around the parapet at the top of the tower.

Indeed at close quarters the main antenna support is not as prominent!

From the south we can perhaps see how the reflector might work.

Looking up Essex Way it all seems nice and rural...

...but down the hill is not so pretty, with the Coryton refinery visible along the Thames

Benfleet index

Bakers Wood (Chelmsford MF) | Great Braxted

History of Benfleet Water Tower

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