Martello towers are solid brick fort-like constructions that were built by the British Army in the eighteen hundreds as a base as well as a defence. They were built in an oval shape that allows for a full rotational view of the landscape. In addition, the ‘egg’ like structure gave the fort incredible strength and could take enormous bombardment from enemy fire.
Bermuda’s Martello Tower is the only one ever constructed on the Island and stands around forty feet high with walls an incredible nine to eleven feet think around it. Located at Ferry Point in St. George’s Bermuda, it was completed in 1828 and took 5 years to build. It was built at a strategic point to protect Bermuda from unwanted visitors who may arrive at what is now known as Ferry Reach, the channel that runs from St George Harbour to Castle Harbour.
The tower also had only one solitary door which was elevated and accessed only by a ladder or walkway which could be raised or lowered from the inside, meaning that even if the enemy managed to invade Bermuda, the army could bunker up in the tower for as long as reinforcements took to arrive.
Traditionally, the British towers were either two to three stories tall and were base camp for around twenty men plus their commanding officer. The ground floor was usually the storeroom which held ammunitions, food and other supplies and provisions. The first floor was the living quarters where the men would cook, eat, bathe and sleep. The towers would, typically, have a cannon fixed on the top of the tower as its main artillery and would benefit from being able to be pointed in any direction to repel foe.
Such forts usually had one cannon mounted to the top and in 2008, Bermuda’s tower was restored, complete with a cannon borrowed from Fort St. Catherine to provide as much originality as possible to the tower.
Apparently, Martello Towers are named after Cape Mortella, a place in Corsica where, in 1794, around 20 soldiers in an egg-shaped tower put up a tremendous fight against an overwhelming and vastly-numbered British attack. Despite ultimately losing the fight to the British, the Corsicans’ tower held for an immense amount of time. The British adapted the structure for their own purposes and built them at several colonial overseas territories.
Although the one at Ferry Point is unique in Bermuda, plans for two other Mortello Towers at the Royal Naval Dockyard were drawn up to protect the Island from French or American invaders, but never saw fruition.
If you love military history, as well as wonderful walks and excellent scenic views, you’ll be impressed with Bermuda’s Martello Tower. It is open from 10am to 2pm during the summer time. The Bermuda Department of Parks can arrange special viewing if required.
Martello Tower Bermuda
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Martello Tower in Bermuda – Part of Elbow Beach Cycles’ Things To Do in Bermuda series!