Victoria Tower, which is now owned by the National Trust for Jersey , was the last of the chain of towers protecting Jersey's coastline to be built. It was completed within months of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne in 1837.
Unlike the other coastal towers, which were either built on the shoreline or out to sea on a substantial rock base, Victoria Tower was built inland, on the hill overlooking Gorey and Mont Orgueil Castle. It was not part of the programme initiated in 1778 by Jersey's Governor, General (later Field Marshal) Henry Seymour Conway, who was horrified at the state of Jersey's defences when he first came to the island, six years after his appointment. He had wanted a tower at Anne Port, but was overruled on cost grounds.
When the threat of a French invasion grew stronger in the 1830s and further defences were added, Victoria Tower was built. It was intended to preclude an invasion at Anne Port below to the north, and also to defend the land side of Mont Orgueil to the south, in the event of an enemy landing
Along with all Jersey's other coastal towers and historic fortifications it is a listed building, described as follows in the Jersey Heritage Historic Environment Record website:
- "The tower is significant as an integral part of a group of surviving Martello-type towers built in Jersey 1831-37 that illustrates the changing political and strategic military history of the Island in the early 19th century.
- "Victoria Tower is of exceptional significance as the last tower to be built in Jersey - constructed in 1837 and named after Queen Victoria to commemorate her accession to the throne.
- "Martello towers of the English pattern were added to Jersey's military estate on the recommendation of Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis (Commanding Officer of the Royal Engineers), in response to the development of French steam-powered naval vessels that were able to hold their position close to the shore and bombard the coastline.
- "Above the door is inscribed VIR 1837. Victoria Tower is of the English 'South Coast' type of Martello (the only other local example being Lewis Tower, and has the characteristic profile of a Martello - being squatter and more robust than the Conway Towers, with a noticeably battered outer wall with very few openings.
- "The tower is set deep into the ground and is the only example in Jersey to be surrounded by a dry moat - the entrance accessed across a drawbridge. The tower was designed primarily for mounting artillery on the roof platform - a 32-pound gun on a traversing platform. There are two landward gun ports (now blocked) and a few loopholes for close fire - particularly into the moat.
- "The very thick walls and bombproof vault protected the accommodation for gunners, and the small garrison on the main floor, the lower chamber housing the magazine and store. There are alcoves under the bridge within the moat that provided additional utility space.
- "In the 1940s the Germans heavily armed Victoria Tower and equipped it with flame-throwers, machine-guns and an anti-aircraft gun on the roof."
German Occupation pictures
Notes and references
- ↑ The Trust's website provides very little information about the tower and wrongly states that it was 'one of the last to be built'. It was the last.