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 Martello Towers 
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I came across the currator for the RMC Museum, located in Fort Frederick, one of the Kingston, Ontario Martello Towers, so I asked him if there was something around to explain removing the roof. Here is his response:

>>Probably the best reference work on Martello Towers was published by Parks Canada some 30 years ago or so - #15 Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History -Canadian Historic Sites. It includes a paper called, " A History of Martello Towers in the Defence of British North America, 1796-1871." by Ivan J. Saunders.

The roofs were put on the Canadian towers because of the harsh winters. These original roofs were removable but, over the years, all have been replaced and now the roofs are not supposed to come off. The Cedar Island roof blew off in a storm about 10 years ago - but that's another issue.

There was considerable speculation that somehow there was a quick release device which would cause the roof sections to fall off . This "story" was even part of the guides presentation at our museum until a few years ago. The understanding now is that while these roofs were indeed removable there was nothing instant about it. Workman would be sent up to dismantle the roof and it might take a day or so to do it. This would have been done if tensions were building and the defences were put on alert.

I hope this information is helpful. You should be able to find the reference book in most major libraries.

Ross McKenzie
Curator
RMC Museum

>>

I will try to track down the publication he refers to.

Cheers


Fri Mar 10, 2006 12:58 am
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Thanks for following up on the roof information, Liz. Too bad the roof removal doesn't sound all that exciting. (I had wild pictures in my head of some cool manual/steam system moving the panels and having the bits open up like the petals of a flower. But I suppose that wouldn't be the most structurally sound way to build it. :D )

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Sat Mar 11, 2006 12:18 am
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susan wrote:
Thanks for following up on the roof information, Liz. Too bad the roof removal doesn't sound all that exciting. (I had wild pictures in my head of some cool manual/steam system moving the panels and having the bits open up like the petals of a flower. But I suppose that wouldn't be the most structurally sound way to build it. :D )


Well, in looking at all the metal rods holding the roof on, I'm not sure I'd want to be up there if they could be released in a hurry. All that flying metal would probably either kill or knock everyone up there silly......and what he is saying makes sense. In that day and age, it would be hard to sneak up on them. I'd love to hear the story of the Cedar Point roof blowing off.

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Sat Mar 11, 2006 3:41 am
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Just a little bit here here from the Telegraph. about the tower at Bawdsey.

I have seen with my own eyes many times the devastation that is being caused along our East Anglian coast and the east coast in general by the North Sea.

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Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:55 am
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Mil Goose wrote:
Just a little bit here here from the Telegraph. about the tower at Bawdsey.

I do hope they can figure out some solution. It would be a shame to let it fall into the sea.

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Mon Sep 18, 2006 10:15 pm
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Mortella Tower, St. Fiorenzo Bay
Interior View

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Thu May 03, 2007 5:48 am
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I was recently in Quebec City (gorgeous city, one of my favourites) and toured one of the 3 surviving Martello Towers (there were originally 4). Its roof was a bit different. It was removed using robes on pullies from the ground, with convicts doing the work. Apparently, this roof was considered disposable, with the panels falling to the ground. The reason convicts were appointed to do it, was ordinary soldiers considered it too dangerous. They estimated most, if not all, of the convicts wouldn't be able to run fast enough to get out of the way and would get squished by the falling panels. As luck would have it, the roof never had to be removed, and the local convicts were safe, from that particular fate anyway......

Martello Tower Number One is a museum (that is the one I was in) and Martello Tower Number Two is used to put on Mystery Dinners set in 1814. Number Three is the one that got demolished and Number Four is held by the City as a private meeting venue.......

Here is some information on the Towers of Quebec.

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Mon Jul 16, 2007 11:45 pm
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LizMc wrote:
The reason convicts were appointed to do it, was ordinary soldiers considered it too dangerous. They estimated most, if not all, of the convicts wouldn't be able to run fast enough to get out of the way and would get squished by the falling panels.

Would the survivors have gotten a pardon?

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Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:18 pm
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susan wrote:
LizMc wrote:
The reason convicts were appointed to do it, was ordinary soldiers considered it too dangerous. They estimated most, if not all, of the convicts wouldn't be able to run fast enough to get out of the way and would get squished by the falling panels.

Would the survivors have gotten a pardon?


Good question.....I don't know.....if they could run that fast, they may have just kept going.

If I go back in February, I'll try to remember to ask.......

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Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:54 pm
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....as you do, while trawling for one thing you find another and I came across these Medway Martello towers built, unusually, outside the Napoleonic period.

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Wed Sep 05, 2007 8:07 am
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From The Times, March 26, 1804:

" ...... the French have devoted much attention to fortify the little rocks of St Marcou, rendered celebrated by the gallant defence of a handful of our tars, under the commands of Lieutenants Price and Bourne. They have built a Martello tower on each, and some time since sent fifty 36-pounders (corresponding with our forty-two's) besides numerous small guns, to the islands from Cherbourg ....."


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Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:09 pm
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Image

One of the Quebec Towers in the snow. Now you know why we put a roof on ours.......

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Mon Feb 18, 2008 8:09 am
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Hi Liz,

Thanks for posting that pic.

I would not enjoy being stationed there! Brr... :D

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Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:31 pm
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Post Re: Martello Towers
This is interesting. A martello tower converted into a house. I'd love to see this.

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Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:06 am
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Post Re: Martello Towers
LizMc wrote:
This is interesting. A martello tower converted into a house. I'd love to see this.

Quite nice! I wouldn't mind living in a Martello tower.

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Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:52 am
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