Remembering Julia Waterlow

Remembering Julia Waterlow

Transition Town Lewes is heartbroken to announce the death of Julia Waterlow, a driving force behind TTL who inspired hundreds, if not thousands, of people to take steps to live more sustainably. If you knew Julia, feel free share your thoughts and memories here.

It’s with deepest sadness that we announce the death of Julia Waterlow after a short battle with cancer, writes Juliet Oxborrow.


Julia was treasurer and steering group member for Transition Town Lewes. But she will probably best be remembered for the many brilliant events she devised to inspire people across Lewes and far beyond to take steps to a more sustainable way of living.

She was the mastermind behind the hugely popular Lewes Open Eco House Weekends, where dozens of ‘green’ homeowners across town threw open their doors and invited anyone to come and see how they could make their own homes more energy efficient, better insulated or configured to run on green energy.

Following the same idea that people love learning from what others are doing, she also launched the Lewes Electric Car and Bike Show. Adamant that it should be a car show without “pushy salespeople”, she instead invited local motorists and cyclists to bring their e-cars and e-bikes along and share their practical experiences – good and bad – of ‘going electric’.

Both events were so popular that she kept both the Eco Open House and the Electric Car & Bike Shows going through the Covid-19 pandemic, with online events. You can still watch the recordings here (eco open houses) and here (electric car and bike shows).

Originally qualified as a chartered surveyor, Julia was a brilliant analytical thinker and organiser. She helped set up the original TTL Energy Group which  transformed into local community energy company, Ovesco, which has subsequently installed enough solar power in East Sussex to power over 1,800 homes. She was also invited to become a director of Meadow Blue, a major community-owned solar farm near Chichester.


Having previously run her own smallholding with livestock on the outskirts of Lewes, she more recently renovated her own eco-home, installing solar panels, a large green roof, external insulation and rainwater-harvesting to flush toilets.

But as well as being super-practical, she was also creative and playful in her efforts to engage people on climate change. She could be seen at environmental marches dressed in a full-body tiger costume, honking a vintage carhorn. Last year at the Planet Party at the Linklater, which she helped to organise, she devised a magnificent Green Goddess costume to wear as Mistress of Ceremonies. Only a few months ago, she started running her own one-woman anti-SUV campaign, leafleting SUVs parked in town with engaging facts about the environmental impact they have.

There is so much more we could say about Julia – and we hope to in a celebration of her life, possibly in September, to which everyone is invited. In the meantime, here are a few more things her friends and peers have to say about her.

If you have a memory or thought to share, please add it in the ‘Comments’ section below, ideally with your name, and we will include it in any future celebration of her life.

Donations to Friends of The Earth can be made on Julia’s behalf c/o Richard Green Funeral Service, 170 High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, TN22 1RN. Tel: 01273 488121.


“What I remember from working with Julia to organise the electric car show and the online Lewes Eco Houses is her no-nonsense energy. She managed to charm and cajole so many people to come together to make an event happen.  I think she had eco-anxiety as much as any of us, but her belief of there always being something that you could do to help inspired us all, and will continue to inspire us in the years after her passing.” Tim Rabjohns


“Julia was very grounded – a good person to ask for advice and a reality check! She was trustworthy, honest and fair. She had a good eye for design and was very creative. Also good at keeping things going, such as meetings! And keeping them to essentials. But there is much that is inexpressible – she was just nice to be around.” Ann Link


“If we had an idea for a new TTL project, Julia would ask ‘and who’s doing that?’ And then she would organise everything and everyone. Julia was simply a driving force for the change we urgently need to see in the world.” Chris Rowland


“I first met Julia in 2007 when she took part in a Low Carbon Households project we were running at Lewes District Council. Her enthusiasm then for tackling climate change and motivating others to do the same was inspiring. I worked with her on many events like Eco Homes, the Electric Car Show, the Planet Party and many other climate-focused events. I’ll miss the fun and determination she brought to these events and the wider climate work she did in Lewes.” Matthew Bird, Lewes District Council


“Julia had a profound effect on my Lewes eco life. Just after I moved here, she organised the first Lewes Eco Open Houses weekend, and I saw all the insulation and energy-lowering measures in her Landport farmhouse. ‘I want to be part of this’, I thought – and when I bought a house I followed her fine example, and am eternally grateful to her for her inspiration.” Jill Goulder


“Plenty of us have good ideas in organisations like TTL but it takes the likes of Julia to make them happen. She was not only our relaxed but careful treasurer, she was courageous, intelligent, pragmatic, and creative. A favourite memory has to be the day we travelled to a London Climate march, on the train & tube, with Julia dressed in a zip up tiger suit, complete with tail. Sitting down was awkward, going to the loo almost impossible, but we laughed, chanted & protested to the full. It’s been a life well lived, with integrity & passion. We couldn’t save this beautiful world, but you did try and you did make a difference. I’m going to miss you.” Sue Fleming

If you have a memory or thought to share, please add it in the comments, ideally with your name, and we will include it in any future celebration of her life.


Online Eco Open Houses Talks

Eco Open Houses: Watch our sessions on heating, power and insulation

We’ve just finished our series of three Eco Open Houses online with about 200 attendees over the three events. The topics covered included heating, insulation, draughtproofing and powering your home, These were illustrated by local residents’ presentations of the changes they had made to improve energy efficiency, make their homes less costly to run and make them more environmentally friendly. Below you will find a summary of the topics covered and the recording of the events.

We have produced a follow up sheet with some links which we hope you will find helpful which can be found here

Heating your home: Alternatives to oil and gas

Thursday 11 February, 6pm to 7pm

LEOHWhat is the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly way to heat your home? Some of our participants have installed heat pumps, both air source and ground source heat pumps.  Given that gas boilers are due to be phased out in 2025, these will be one of the main options for heating. We plan also to discuss wood fired boilers, underfloor heating and solar heating for hot water.

Many thanks to all those who took part in our online event on Thursday, February 11th. Here’s a recording of the event:

Click here to view on YouTube

Please contact us if you would like further information or have further questions.

Insulation & draughtproofing – how to keep the heat in

Thursday 18 February, 6pm to 7pm

All those taking part in this session have carried out some form of enhanced insulation to their homes. As well as roof insulation there will be examples of how you can add wall insulation to an existing house. Living in Lewes with old leaky windows you may be interested in the explanation of how to install neat secondary double glazing and there are also some easy solutions to draughts.

Many thanks to all those who took part in our online event on Thursday, February 18th. Here’s a recording of the event:

Click here to view on YouTube

One of our presenters, Nicola, gave a particularly in-depth explanation of how she insulated her older house and the materials she used which is full of tips and ideas. The pdf of Nicola’s presentation can be seen here…

Powering your home: photovoltaics and batteries

Thursday 25 February, 6pm to 7pm


This session will focus primarily on photovoltaic panels (PV) and home batteries. Although the government subsidies for PV have gone, they still (just) make financial sense living here in the south-east with our higher than UK average sunshine.  Batteries in the home will most likely become the norm in time but most of our participants have already installed them ahead of the game. Find out what is involved and whether it’s now the time to go electric.

Many thanks to all those who took part in our online event on Thursday, February 25th. Here’s a recording of the event:

Lewes Eco Open Houses


Lewes eco open houses

Eco house inspiration

There are plenty of ideas and information for making your house more eco-friendly from the Eco Open House events we have held over the years. Local people from across the Lewes district opened their varied houses to the public to show and talk about the improvements they had made. Unlike sales people, they gave frank views on what has and hasn’t worked for them.

Our 2021 online eco open house events covered heating, insulating and powering your home and the recordings of these events can be seen here. One of our presenters, Nicola, gave a particularly in-depth explanation of how she insulated her older house and the materials she used which is full of tips and ideas. The pdf of her presentation can be seen here.

We have produced a folow-up sheet with links which we hope you will find helpful which can be found here.

TTLBrochures and leaflets for our older events can be seen below. Although there is only basic information for the years 2009 and 2010, there are links to much more detailed information for subsequent years 2012 – 2017. Please note that some of the information in the brochures may now be slightly out of date. We hope you enjoy seeing what others have done.

If you are on the point of installing any particular measure and would like to consult a householder who has already done so, please contact us and we will attempt to arrange it. Send your enquiry here…

Please note that the Lewes Eco Open Houses website no longer exists.

2009: Houses in Lewes and surrounding area

Link to LEOHLEOH 2009 page 2

2010: Houses in Lewes and surrounding area

Link to LEOH

LEOH 2010 page 2

2012: Houses in Lewes, Plumpton, Ditchling and Ripe

2013: Houses in Lewes, Plumpton, Hassocks, Ditchling, Barcombe, Ringmer and Laughton

2014: Houses in Lewes, Plumpton, Hassocks, Barcombe and Ditchling

LEOH2016: Houses in Lewes and Plumpton

2017: There were just two houses open and they are included in the information above.

Julia Waterlow Eco House

Julia Waterlow & Sue Fleming

Eco Open Houses Worthing

Transition Town Worthing also has a wealth of valuable information for homeowners, especially for anyone retrofitting an older property. Have a look at Eco Open Houses Worthing & Adur (2020) and Eco Open Houses Worthing, including Lancing & Shoreham (2018)

Other information

We are lucky to have a number of experts in the town who are always happy to help. Here is some information from them:

Magnetic secondary double glazing and LED lighting, see Jill Goulder’s helpful video and information here…

Also see this article by Neil Williams on air source heat pumps.

Neil Williams heat pump image