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 Martello Towers 
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Post Martello Towers
The chain of these fortifications along the south coast, built during the Napoleonic Wars, make an impressive sight, and I believe are worthy of mention under this section of the forum.

They are not, however, confined to the south coast and the one nearest to me is in Suffolk, on the east coast, at Aldeburgh, which I believe, and open to correction, is the most northerly in England.

I am no expert of these fortifications, but they do seem to vary in design as the two links will show. This Wikipedia site also says they were "exported" to the Colonies!

A fascinating subject, I think; please feel free to add.

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Mon Sep 05, 2005 12:40 pm
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I am quite fond of martello towers. I've never been in one but I've seen them along the Sussex coast while travelling from Hastings to the Beachy Head area.

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Mon Sep 05, 2005 5:22 pm
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There are a number of Martello Towers in Canada. A few weeks ago I was in one of them which houses the Museum for the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, and with perfect timing, a thunderstorm struck while we were up on the gun deck. It was quite something to be among the 32 pounders while the rain was beating on the roof, lightening was flashing through the windows and the thunder was rumbling all around us. There at least 4 of them guarding Kingston Harbour, a couple in Quebec City, with thin walls on the Citadel side, so they could be destroyed by the Citadel guns if they fell into enemy hands, and some in Halifax, NS.

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Tue Sep 06, 2005 4:54 am
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More on Martello Towers: http://www.boldts.net/Kingston4.shtml

This article mentions the thinner walls on the fort side, so the tower could be destroyed if it fell into enemy hands, and a bit about the roof design so it would not obstruct the guns........I'm looking for more on the roof as one of our number was told a bit about them at Kingston. The staff described it as opening like a flower.

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Thu Sep 08, 2005 3:25 am
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And more. Tab down to Fort Frederick


http://www.rmc.ca/other/museum/history_e.html#towers

This mentions the roof, but not how it was removed. In looking for information, I was wondering why the towers in Britain didn't seem to have a protective roof, but the ones in Canada did. The answer is bloody obvious. The Canadian ones needed a snow roof.

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Thu Sep 08, 2005 3:54 am
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Liz,

Thanks for posting the links about the Canadian towers. The roofs are interesting and I would like to know how they managed to open them up.

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Fri Sep 09, 2005 2:18 am
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Here are some pictures of Irish martello towers.

There were also some built in Scotland. Here's one open to the public in Orkney: Hackness Martello Tower

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Wed Sep 21, 2005 4:44 pm
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Post Tower book
I find the Martello Towers kind of interesting also. Especially the stories that revolve around the one at Halifax, Nova Scotia. I poked around at Amazon.com and found the following. Anyone have a copy and willing to comment?

"Towers Of Strength: The Story of the Martello Towers" by W. Clements

Book Description
One British response to the threat of Napoleon was to ring the English coasts with a series of heavily fortified observation towers. While 43 towers survive in the British Isles, the most famous and the most frequently visited is the one outside Dublin at Sandycove, now a major James Joyce museum. Canadian towers and American towers inspired by the British ones are also covered in detail.

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Wed Sep 21, 2005 6:46 pm
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Post Re: Tower book
timoneer wrote:
I find the Martello Towers kind of interesting also. Especially the stories that revolve around the one at Halifax, Nova Scotia. I poked around at Amazon.com and found the following. Anyone have a copy and willing to comment?

"Towers Of Strength: The Story of the Martello Towers" by W. Clements




I regret that, as intriguing as they are, I don't have anything in my own library on the subject; it sounds like a good one to have.

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Fri Sep 23, 2005 5:22 am
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Liz mentioned the towers in the Channel Islands to me. Here's a webpage about Victoria Tower on Jersey. Here's another one for Kempt Tower. Article about the general history of the Jersey towers.

And more towers in Mauritius.

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Fri Sep 30, 2005 5:55 am
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susan wrote:
Liz mentioned the towers in the Channel Islands to me. Here's a webpage about Victoria Tower on Jersey. Here's another one for Kempt Tower. Article about the general history of the Jersey towers.

And more towers in Mauritius.


There is a large, well perserved one in Guernsey with is now a museum. It is one of the Channel Islands fortifications modified by the Germans during the occupation, although not nearly to the same extent as some others, like Cornet Castle in St Peter Port. The Channel Islands are interesting to visit for the history buff, as a lot has been perserved and are located in a compact area. I didn't see as much of Jersey as I only worked there once, so I only had one weekend, in January, when most things are closed for the season, but I've seen alot of Guernsey, including Saumerez' estate (not open to the public, unfortunately) and spent a pleasant evening in a pub dedicated to him.....

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Sat Oct 01, 2005 12:11 am
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Post "Towers of Strength" by W. H. Clements
"Towers of Strength" by W. H. Clements

Note: The subtitle on the title page is "The Story of the Martello Towers" and the subtitle on the dust jacket is "Martello Towers Worldwide." Oops!

The preface states "The book is a general description of most of the towers built by the British in Britain, Ireland and elsewhere throughout the world …. However the book does not attempt to be an exhaustive study of the history of their construction, but I hope that it will inform and interest anyone who wishes to know more about these fascinating fortifications."

Note that it says that "most" are covered. When I attempted to find details of the one mentioned by Mary at Bawdsey, Suffolk, (ravages of the sea thread) it was only listed in a chart, there was no separate description nor photos in the body of the book. There was no listing in the Index.

LizMac -- I tried to find a detailed description for the method of opening the roofs of the towers at Kingston, Ontario but struck out. The towers there are discussed but the book only states: "This roof was designed in sections so that it could be removed when the guns needed to be fired."

In addition to towers already mentioned in the UK, Canada, USA, and the Channel Islands; towers were also built in Australia, India, South Africa, the Caribbean, Mauritius, and the Mediterranean.

The conclusion states: "More than 200 Martello towers were built around the world by the British government between 1796 and 1857."

Clements offers alternate explanations for the name. "There has been considerable discussion over the years concerning the derivation of the name `Martello'. The most commonly accepted explanation is that it was derived from the reputation of the tower at Mortella Point [St. Fiorenza Bay, Corsia] and is simply a corruption of the name which, bearing in mind the British serviceman's ability to adopt and modify foreign words, does seem quite likely. An alternative suggestion, however, is that the name comes from Torri di Martello (Hammer Towers), built on the Italian coast. Some sources suggest these towers were called hammer towers because of the warning bell on the top of each which was sounded by striking the bell with a hammer. Other sources maintain that the towers, with their machicolation [projecting parapets], were so named because when viewed from a distance they appeared in outline to resemble a hammer. Whatever the derivation, and the most generally held view is the first one given above, the word `Martello' is now the generic term used to describe British nineteenth-century gun towers."

I enjoyed this book as I knew very little about such towers, but if anyone is looking for detailed information on every tower, another source must be found.

However, I don't want to give everyone the impression that there are few details. There are drawings, plans, maps, charts, and a large number of photos. Even though the tower at Bawdsey was not covered in the text, the chart gives the following:

built: 1809-1812
height: 33 feet
diameter: 55 feet
shape: cam [three lobed]
original armament: 1x24 pdr, 2x24 pdr, carronades
comment: derelict [as of 1998]

Don


Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:31 am
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Thanks, Don. This would make an interesting addition to the collection. I believe Parks Canada has a short pubication on the Canadian Towers, but I can't find reference to it online. Once I'm back from England, I'll see if I can track it down. Knowing me, it may justify another trip to Kingston or Quebec City. Of the 11 surviving towers here, I believe the Carlton Tower in St John, New Brunswick is the only one that no longer has its roof.

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Fri Oct 14, 2005 12:49 am
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Old photos of Canadian towers:

Kingston, Ontario
Plains of Abraham, Quebec

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Sat Nov 05, 2005 7:57 pm
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susan wrote:
Old photos of Canadian towers:

Kingston, Ontario
Plains of Abraham, Quebec

Sorry, it appears that the links have gone south. Annoying. :(

Here is the main page: Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (hope this one doesn't go bad). Enter "martello tower" in the search field.

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Sun Nov 06, 2005 7:37 am
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