IHBC features ‘Heritage from the doorstep’: Heritage group to spend £120k to restore Martello Tower

Historic England is splashing out almost £120,000 to save a historic Martello Tower in Clacton, reports The Harwich and Manningtree Standard.

The Harwich and Manningtree Standard writes:

The Grade II-listed Tower E, off Hastings Avenue, is part of a chain of forts built to protect the coast from invasion during the Napoleonic era.

But the crumbling structure, a scheduled ancient monument dating back to 1812, requires urgent repair work to make it safe and water-tight.

Tony Calladine, regional director at Historic England, said: “We’re delighted to support the urgently needed repair of Martello Tower E with this grant.

“The tower is a valued local landmark and a striking visual reminder of Britain’s defence against the threat of invasion during the 19th century.

“We’re pleased to play our part in repairing this important site and protecting it for future generations to enjoy.”

The tower, which is now owned by Tendring Council, was armed and provisioned but was never manned.

After the end of the Napoleonic Wars the towers were rendered obsolete by technological developments in heavy artillery.

After 1816, married pensioners from sapper and artillery units were appointed as tower caretakers and the tower was sold to West Clacton Estate in 1904.

By 1935, it was part of the Butlin’s Holiday Camp and the roof was used to mount a cistern supplying water to the chalets.

The holiday camp closed in the early 1980s, replaced by housing developments at Martello Bay, and the condition of the tower deteriorated. It is now in a poor condition with a leaking roof and an unstable and damp interior.

The £118,000 grant from Historic England, covering 80 per cent of the works, will enable urgent repair work to make the building safe by removing the damaged exterior render and installing temporary support to the internal floor.

The gun platform floor will be repaired and drainage installed.

Debris from inside the building will be removed after careful archaeological monitoring.

Lynda McWilliams, Tendring Council’s councillor responsible for partnerships, said: “The Martello Towers showcase the history of the area, to see improvement and sustainable development sensitive to their heritage, would be beneficial to us all.

“My thanks go to Historic England for their ongoing support to us as we try to make best use of and safeguard our historic buildings.”

The tower stands at a height of ten metres, with up to four-metre-thick walls facing the sea and is sloped inwards to resist cannon fire.

The open top floor, supported by a vast central pillar, carried three guns set on swivelling carriages. Of the original 29 towers on the east coast, only 17 now survive.

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