Martello Tower No. 61
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Statutory Address:
- Martello Tower No. 61, Millward Road
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- Statutory Address:
- Martello Tower No. 61, Millward Road
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- East Sussex
- Wealden (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 65280 03490
Reasons for Designation
Martello Tower No. 61 is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It is an early C19 structure, and is of national significance as forming part of a coastal defence system along the Kent and Sussex coasts at the time of the Napoleonic wars.
* Despite alterations and additions to the tower, its distinctive form and structure remain intact, and are indicative of its defensive function.
* It is of historical significance as one of only 26 that survive of the original line of 74 on the Kent and Sussex coasts, and forms part of a chain that demonstrates the national coastal defence strategy at the beginning of the C19.
* As a structure now in domestic use listing is a more appropriate form of designation than scheduling.
Martello Tower No. 61
GV II Martello Tower No. 61 stands on the shingle about 200m from the sea. One of a line of towers along the Kent and Sussex coasts, it was built in 1805-06 in response to the threat of invasion by France during the Napoleonic wars. The tower is built of brick, the World War II superstructure of concrete and glass. Its plan is externally slightly elliptical, with sides sloping inwards towards the top, but internally circular, with a massive central column. Martello tower walls generally vary in thickness around the circumference with thicker walls facing the sea.
EXTERIOR: Martello Towers are generally about 10m high, but Tower No.61 appears to be slightly taller because the shingle around the base has been removed. The original entrance survives and is still in use. A stairway has been erected against the outer wall to provide access; originally, access would have been via a retractable ladder. Newer openings include some at ground floor level. One between ground and first floor was allegedly created by Canadian troops while garrisoned here during World War II. As well as the door at first floor level there are two windows. The World War II structure erected on the roof is circular, of two tiers, with windows all around the seaward side of both tiers.
INTERIOR: The water cistern survives below the ground floor, and apparently occupies the whole area of the ground plan. There were originally two trap doors which allowed buckets to be lowered into the cistern in order to draw water, but these were concreted over during World War II.
The ground floor contains two bedrooms and a bathroom: the latter was the ammunition store, the walls of which had been partially vandalized and were rebuilt in the process of conversion. The roof is vaulted, and the walls contain niches for storage. The ceilings of the bedroom are flat and plastered. Ventilation to the ground floor, when there were no openings to the outside, was through shafts from the first floor built into the wall, which appear as niches high in the walls. Access to the first floor is by a wrought iron spiral stair against the wall, which passes the entrance forced by Canadian troops.
The most striking feature of the first floor is the massive central column. Around the column is now a single open living space, which was originally divided into officers and mens' quarters. The fire places for both survive: the officers' quarters fireplace retains the grate, the mens' quarters fireplace now houses a modern stove and has a modern hearth. Niches low in the walls indicate the beginning of ventilation shafts for the ground floor. The ceiling is vaulted. Just inside the door, a ring attached to the ceiling is the remains of the pulley system that would have carried supplies and equipment into the tower. All internal walls throughout the tower are unplastered brick. An original stairway set into the thickness of the wall gives access to the roof and superstructure.
The internal stair comes out under the parapet that surrounds the roof. Set into the parapet at regular intervals are five, formerly six, restraining rings, used to secure the gun carriage. The only other surviving evidence for the gun emplacement is a niche in the parapet to hold ammunition. All other immediate evidence has gone, although a cannon has been attached to the parapet in recent years. The stair also gives immediately into the outer observation room of the World War II superstructure. Above the parapet on the seaward side is almost continuous glass, separated into sections by uprights. There were originally three rooms at this level, divided by walls made from concrete poured into corrugated iron shuttering: there are now two. Above this level is a small bedroom, with windows all around the seaward side.
HISTORY. The south coast Martello Towers were built in 1805-06 in response to the threat of invasion by France during the Napoleonic wars. The form of the towers has been inspired by a single circular tower at Cape Mortella, Corsica which the British Navy attacked in 1794 but proved very difficult to take. Lines of martello towers were built along the Suffolk-Essex and Kent-Sussex coasts. Others were built in Scotland and Ireland. Towers were sited to protect possible invasion beaches and were located such that adjoining towers provided interlocking fields of fire.
The towers continued in use through the early 19th century, becoming obsolete during the latter part of the century. In the 1930s the tower was used as a shingle grader. The tower was reused during World War II when a superstructure was added on the roof, which contained range finding equipment for a gun battery installed in 1941 on the shingle below. Canadian troops were the first to be garrisoned there, and after 1942 it was taken over by the Home Guard. After the war the tower remained in use as an Royal Observation Corps post by the Air Ministry, but was decommissioned as being surplus to requirements on 9th April 1962. In the 1960s blocks of flats were erected around the now derelict tower, which was finally converted to domestic use in the 1990s.
SOURCES: Monuments Protection Programme: Monument Class Description Website: www.martello-towers.co.uk Roberts, Paul, EH Conservation Statement: Martello Tower No. 28 Rye Harbour. Internal EH document 2003. Smith, V, Front Line Kent, 2003 pp.46-47.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION: Martello Tower No 61 is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * It is an early C19 structure, and is of national significance as forming part of a coastal defence system along the Kent and Sussex coasts at the time of the Napoleonic wars. * Despite alterations and additions to the tower, its distinctive form and structure remain intact, and are indicative of its defensive function. * It is of historical significance as one of only 26 that survive of the original line of 74 on the Kent and Sussex coasts, and forms part of a chain that demonstrates the national coastal defence strategy at the beginning of the C19. * As a structure now in domestic use, listing is a more appropriate form of designation than scheduling.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Smith, V , Front Line Kent, (2003), 46-47
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
End of official listing