- Michael Foley
15th March 2013
There are a number of strange buildings that stand on the south and east coasts of England, often thought to be water towers or ventilation shafts. They are, in fact, important historical defences, built to stop Napoleon's army invading our shores during the wars of the early nineteenth century. Any ship approaching the coast could come under fire from at least four of the buildings at once. They are the Martello towers. More than a hundred were built along the coasts of Kent, Sussex, Essex and Suffolk. Others were built in Ireland and other parts of the empire. Their creation caused severe differences of opinion between some of the best-known men of the period. Names such as Nelson, Wellington, Pitt and Cobbett all had something to say about them. Although never used in the Napoleonic Wars, they were in many cases updated and played a part in later conflicts, including both World Wars. Many have succumbed to coastal erosion and experiments by the Royal Artillery. Of those that remain, some have been converted into dwellings and others are now museums. They are still an important part of our military and social history, and here Michael Foley provides history, details and photographs of all the remaining Martello towers along England's coastline.