Former water tower at Hillside to be a family home


The iconic water tower at Hillside is going to be turned into a three-storey family home.

The former Kinnaber Water Works, also know as the Montrose Water Works Filter House, has been bought by Kerry and Daniel Cabrelli from Montrose.

They will be turning the tower, which hasn’t been used for more than 20 years, into a four bedroom house for themselves and their two children, Necole (13) and Matteo (8).

The grade C listed building was erected in 1910, with an extension in 1960, and supplied water to Montrose and the surrounding area.

The Cabrelli family have also been in touch with Channel 4’s ‘Grand Designs’ about the possibility of filming their conversion of the waterworks.

Kerry (35) said: “I don’t think it has sunk yet that we own the water tower. It still feels surreal. It feels like we are doing a project, but it isn’t our own one.

“We sold our home in Ferryden in November and moved into rented accommodation in the hope of finding a plot of land or a building to convert.

“We saw the water tower on the Buildings at Risk website and inquired about 
it immediately.

“I think it closed down around 26 years ago and the person we bought it off had it for 11 years.”

In 2012 full planning permission and listed building consent for conversion of the disused waterworks into two homes had been conditionally approved by Angus Council, but the Cabrelli’s have changed the planning application to turn it into one property.

The family own the Cabrelli Electrical company and Daniel will be doing all the electric work himself.

Kerry continued: “It is something we have been thinking about doing for two to three years now as the children are older.

“With Daniel’s job he brings home a lot of plans for houses and we wanted to do something ourselves.

“We had looked a few places but nothing stood out. As soon was we came up and saw the water tower we knew it was right and put in an offer.”

She added: “It is just going to be a family home but we want to keep some of the quirky features, such as the staircase which goes up to the upper part of the tower, some of the pipes and the arched windows. We’re going to build our home around the features the building already has.”

The property is 700 square metres inside, which the Cabrelli family have cleared of weeds and debris, and a second floor for bedrooms will be built, as well as a garage area downstairs, so the family can run their electrical company from home.

They will be creating a new front door, which will bring visitors in by the winding staircase going up to the highest part of the tower, as well as installing solar panels on the roof.

Kerry continued: “We’re not sure what we want to do with the upstairs of the tower yet. We may put a terrace garden on the top in time.

“We’re not putting a time on how long it will take us to complete the house. It’ll be finished when it is finished,”

The family also have plans to turn the water tank, which will lie under their garden, into an underground room.

Kerry added: “We’ve had a few people come up and say that they’re happy to see that the building is being made into a home. We haven’t had one negative comment about it.”

The importance of providing clean drinking water to every household became particularly pertinent in the mid 19th century after cholera was discovered to have been linked to the drinking of impure water.

The 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map of 1868 depicts a reservoir one the site of the tower, with further Kinnaber Water Works buildings to the east, at the opposite side of a railway. By the map of 1927, two reservoirs and a filter house are depicted on the site with a pumping station to the east.

It is believed this is because as Montrose expanded, so did the requirement for clean water and the water tower was erected om the highest hill near to the town.

It extracted water from the North Esk, filtered it and utilised the fall originally taken by Upper Kinnaber Mills to pump water to the tower on the hill by a water turbine.

It was build near Sunnyside Royal Hospital, which was equipped with its own water tower.