About Us

Nine smiling men hold up a banner announcing Heritage North Essex Learning 2019. The banner includes the logo of The National Lottery Heritage Fund which shows a smiling cartoon character made up of crossed fingers.

We believe old buildings are more than just bricks, wood and mortar. They are often a source of pride and identity to their local communities. If sensitively conserved, restored, and repurposed, they can bring a host of social, economic and cultural benefits.

Three men in high visibility jackets stand in front of a red brick tower.
" Everyone in the team is an expert in their field and I’m learning a great deal about all the different aspects involved in the project, from engineering and architecture to heritage interpretation and tourism.

Bill Hayton

Who we are

We are committed to community-led preservation and regeneration of buildings across North East Essex.

North Essex Heritage is a building preservation trust (Colchester & North East Essex Building Preservation Trust) which is working on some brilliant, challenging, and unique projects. You may know about some of our work, but much of what we do is behind the scenes as we collaborate with partners to bring about positive change. We work with other charities, local authorities, commercial supporters, heritage and building experts and funding organisations.

Founded in 1995, when Anthony and Ann Bartleet from Great Tey decided to establish a charity to support heritage, the Trust’s purpose is to preserve local buildings of beauty or historical architectural or constructional interest.

Our initial purpose was to acquire historic buildings which were “at risk”, restoring and selling them and using the proceeds to acquire more buildings. We now have a much wider brief, and fund research, produce viability appraisals, campaign to conserve our built heritage and raise funding for major projects.

The Trust acts as a focus to encourage and assist all those who are interested in conserving Colchester’s rich built history by:

  • setting high standards of conservation and repair in our own projects and in those we are actively promoting;
  • encouraging the involvement of local communities in our activities, including conservation work;
  • engaging and training young people to gain experience in – and hopefully enjoy – building repair and traditional local craft skills.

Please visit our Charity Commission overview for more on our charitable status.

Advisors and Consultants

Irene Kettle

Irene Kettle, Communications, Media Relations and PR

A child crouches down to draw a picture of a building on a concrete floor using coloured chalks.
" My work with the Trust brings a very satisfying involvement with like-minded people keen to make the best of our historic environment in the area.

Andrew Crayston


Currently our main project is the preservation and renaissance of the Balkerne Water Tower, affectionally know as Jumbo. This Victorian masterpiece in Colchester has been on the Buildings at Risk register for many years and is Grade II* listed. As such, it is one of the top 6% of the most important heritage assets in the country.

Jumbo dominates the city skyline and is a much-loved iconic structure. Its history and heritage value are exceptional and having been empty for 40 years, an urgent solution needs to be found. North Essex Heritage has secured a 150-year lease of Jumbo and has exciting plans, working with some of the best design and other consultants in the country. For The Jumbo Project we are supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, the Architectural Heritage Fund and the Towns Deal Fund.

We are actively developing new opportunities to broaden our profile, in particular by supporting others with conservation projects by offering assistance to local groups who are looking to undertake Community Right to Bid/Community Asset Transfer process, or working with developers to assist regeneration with valued historic buildings at its heart.

North Essex Heritage is the operating name of Colchester & North East Essex Building Preservation Trust (CNEEBPT), a company limited by guarantee (3020005), and is a registered charity (1044514).