Sunday, July 29, 2012

Martello Towers – by Zeke

While in Mauritius we visited two martello towers stationed on either side of the bay at Black River.  The towers were built in the 1830’s by the British in case of an invasion from the French. Fortunately this was not necessary and the cannon’s were never fired in anger. We first visited the derelict tower which was in amazingly good condition oh except the floor.

From left to right, Nicola Lara Mum and Nina in front of the derelict Martello Tower 

Climbing up a ladder to the second floor landing.  As you can see at least there’s a ladder .

We left the tower with many questions which were answered at the second tower which had been converted to a museum. The museum was one of the best we visited in Mauritius with a guide per group.

We were impressed by one of the key features of the martello tower which was the stone roof of the powder room was doubled as a inflammable surface in front of the fireplace on the upper floor. Twenty to 25 men lived in this tower around the 1830’s. The cannon which is mounted on a central pivot has a full 360° view of the surrounding shore. The fort not only had a long rang cannon but also a cannonade.

Our Guide in front of the fireplace and above the powder room 

In the cross-section picture you can see that the soldiers actually entered the second floor via a ladder then down a rope ladder not shown to the ground floor. The fort was kept well stocked with water and food and could be lived in for many weeks. On the seaward side of the fort the walls were three meters thick and on the opposite side two meters thick. Both the towers had some ground based defense consisting of a cannon and strategically placed mounds of dirt.

Cross-section of a Martello tower 

Martello towers have been built all over the world from Canada to South Africa from Sri Lanka to Jamaica In colder climates Martello towers have been known to have rooves from which forth a cannon can poke.

Hundreds of martello towers have been built by the British around the world wide as you can see in the map above.  

Martello tower with roof            Canada

And surprise!!! There is a martello tower in Australia. Any guesses where it is?

The martello tower in Australia

Some of the many Martello towers around the world. 

 Martello towers are still used to this day, some as houses for those who desire to live in a fort. When I was on web looking for pictures of martello towers I came upon a very interesting site called Napoleon proof your home which talked about how a guy renovated a martello tower and came up with something amazing.


ps: The surprise Martello tower is Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour, Australia

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