7:50am Thursday 30th August 2012
A PENARTH man’s mission to turn a mid 19th century water tower into ‘a lavish and eccentric’ home is to feature on national television - in the milestone 100th episode of cult Channel 4 renovation series Grand Designs.
Former Stanwell pupil Leigh Osborne, 40, welcomed the film crew onto the site of the water tower in central London, as he worked to convert it into ‘one of the most lavish and eccentric residences in the city’.
Work began on the property in February and is set to be finished soon, with the programme due for broadcast on October 10.
Property developer Leigh, who grew up in Beechwood Drive and whose family still live in the town, said: "We have been filming for the last seven months. I feel like Katie Price with a camera crew around me all the time!"
Built in 1867, the water tower was in disrepair when restoration work began. "It was like a horror film,” said Leigh.
"There were 2,000 dead pigeons in there, and poo that went up to the top of your wellies!"
After extensive cleaning work, the renovation could begin – made all the more difficult as the tower is Grade II listed, its walls are 5ft thick, and it stands 99ft tall. But after months of work, the tower is now almost complete, with a gym, six bedrooms, a bathroom with giant bath tub, and a high-tech iPhone-controlled lighting and heating system.
Leigh, who featured in the Penarth Times in 1982 after starring as Oliver Twist in an Evenlode Primary School production, said: "The transformation from a derelict building to a lavish, beautiful home is absolutely incredible.
“I’m really proud that I have saved a building that was on the English Heritage at-risk register, and can make it into a wonderful home for future generations.”
A Grand Designs spokesman said: “Leigh is a risk taker, somebody who does things differently, and this philosophy permeates every level of the design.”
Currently living in a nearby flat, Leigh plans to move in to the tower once the renovation is complete.
"At the top of the building is a water tank that could hold 750,000 gallons of water," he added.
"I have decided to keep that and have put in six windows to give a 360-degree view of London!"
Grand Designs, featuring Leigh Osborne’s water tower, will air on Channel 4 on October 10.
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