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Martello tower K and associated battery south west of Walton Mere

A Scheduled Monument in Frinton and Walton, Essex

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Latitude: 51.8512 / 51°51'4"N

Longitude: 1.2667 / 1°16'0"E

OS Eastings: 625078.1651

OS Northings: 222007.1282

OS Grid: TM250220

Mapcode National: GBR VRP.WLR

Mapcode Global: VHLCT.XQ0P

Entry Name: Martello tower K and associated battery south west of Walton Mere

Scheduled Date: 17 November 1960

Last Amended: 3 April 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016787

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29434

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Frinton and Walton

Built-Up Area: Walton-on-the-Naze

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Walton-le-Soken All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument, which is in two areas of protection, includes a martello tower
and the standing and buried remains of an associated forward battery, situated
on the landward side of Walton on the Naze overlooking Mill Lane, Walton Town
Hard and the Walton Backwaters to the north east of the town. The tower was
originally identified by the letter `K' within the series of towers built
along the Essex coastline between 1809 and 1812.

Tower K (a Grade II Listed Building) stands complete to its original height of
about 10m. The date stone above the door and the denticulated stone mouldings
around the door and windows all protrude slightly from the brickwork,
indicating that this tower, as with many on the east coast, was originally
covered by a layer of coarse stucco. Patches of render, including possible
traces of the original coating, still adhere to the exterior brickwork.
The first floor entrance, to the south west, retains its original heavy door,
now approached by a modern steel staircase. The arrangement of joists for the
floor within the garrison room remains substantially intact, although a
section has recently been removed to facilitate access to the ground floor and
most of the original oak planking has long since been replaced. Many other
original features survive; these include the cast iron cooking range (a
`Guidwife' model manufactured by Lane and Girson of Bonnybridge) set within
the eastern (officers) fireplace, as well as the fireproof flagstones forming
the flooring in this area and covering the vault of the main powder magazine
below. Sections of the cast iron pipework which fed the basement cistern with
rainwater from the roof also remain in place, together with the hoist ring set
in the ceiling vault above the position of the former trapdoor to the ground
floor. All four of the windows to this floor were framed and glazed during the
1960s when the tower was used as a bar and discotheque, although two of the
apertures retain the iron bars installed around 1818 to allow the shutters to
remain open for better ventilation.

The stairways to the roof both survive in good condition. The original wooden
blast door is still fitted at the head of the southern flight; and although
its companion to the north is lying loose nearby, the ring hinges and wooden
securing spar remain in situ. Unlike many examples on the east coast, the
interior face of the rampart has not been rendered. The masonry of the parapet
and gun step is therefore fully visible, together with the box-like recesses
used to hold a ready supply of cannon balls and other equipment; one of these
recesses still retains its wooden frame. All nine of the iron hauling-rings
(used for traversing and preparing the cannons) survive: three attached to the
walls of each gun embrasure. The cannons themselves were removed in the 19th
century, although two of the pivots for the rotating carriages (cannon barrels
embedded muzzle upwards in the roof) still stand in the eastern (forward) and
northern (rear) embrasures. The southern rear embrasure contains a
comparatively modern concrete water tank. Several sections of the iron track
used to support the front wheels of the gun carriages remain fixed to the
inner step in the two rear embrasures, and sections of the rear wheel tracks
are still set into the concentric pattern of flagstones surrounding the two
visible gun pivots.

The ground floor is accessible via a modern passageway cut through the rear
wall of an storage alcove on the WNW side of the tower. The other storage
alcoves and casemates are substantially unaltered, although the aperture in
the lamp passage alongside the main magazine has been bricked up. The original
ventilation system - an arrangement of flues set within the thickness of the
outer wall and linked to box-like apertures and slots in the alcoves and in
the internal walls of the room above - is still very much in evidence.

Tower K, the most northerly in the line of Essex martello towers, was built to
command the landing places and safe harbours to the rear of Walton on the
Naze; whilst tower J (demolished in 1835-6) stood further to the east on
Walton Cliffs and faced out to sea. All the Essex towers, except for that at
Holland Marsh (tower H), were built to accompany forward batteries, some of
which had already stood for over ten years. The battery near Tower K was built
in 1795, during the early stages of the French war, and is one of only two
surviving examples on the Essex coast; the other lies near tower A at Stone
Point, St Osyth. The remains of the Walton Mere battery stand some 80m to the
north east of the tower on the Town Hard. The battery is of the barbette-type:
originally a `V'-shaped brick wall pointing towards the Mere, terraced to the
rear and equipped with low embrasures to allow three 24-pound cannons to fire
from traversing platforms. The northern arm of the wall, some 25m in length
and 2.5m high, survives well, retaining the upper courses of dressed stone,
the inner rifle step (or covered way) and evidence of two gun embrasures. The
southern wall, however, was demolished to ground level in the 1960s, leaving
only a broad band of foundation courses visible in the present yard surface.
The standing and buried remains of the battery, excluding all features
subsequently overlain or attached, are included in the scheduling.

As with all the Essex martello towers, tower K was armed and provisioned but
not garrisoned after its completion in 1812. A report by the Ordnance Barrack
Department in that year pointed to the unhealthy nature of the Essex coastline
and recommended that the artillerymen be stationed at Weely (some 8km inland)
where barracks had been built for the Essex defence regiments in 1803.
Throughout the period leading up to the settlement of Europe in 1815 the
entire line of Essex towers was in the charge of `Barrack Sergeant Burnett' of
Great Clacton. After 1816 married pensioners from sapper and artillery units
were appointed as caretakers - General F McKenzie being appointed to tower K.
Little is known of the tower's use through the remainder of the 19th century
although the strategic importance of the Walton Backwaters was such that it
continued to mount its 24 pound cannon for some time after the Napoleonic War.
During the 20th century the tower has seen a variety of uses related both to
the London County Council camping site, which surrounded it before the World
War II, and the subsequent development of the Martello Caravan Park. These
have included periods as a bar and latterly as a storeroom and electricity
sub-station. During World War I, the associated battery was roofed over and
was in use as a training centre for the army. In the early years of World
War II however, this roof was lost to a storm and the battery was used to
store mobile coastal defence guns brought up from the marshes at night.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling, these are; on the
ground floor all the modern fixtures and fittings including several rows of
electrical transformers (grey metal cabinets) and their associated wiring and
switchgear, lightweight partitions and doors (some associated with the former
use of the magazine as a darkroom), shelves and a wide variety of stored
equipment and furniture, on the first floor a plumbed-in toilet in the north
east window alcove, a sink installed in the south east window bay, a
decorative brick fireplace, domestic door frames and doors at the bases of the
two staircases and glazed wooden frames in all four windows, lino squares on
the floor, mirrors and glass shelves on the walls and a set of new handrails
surrounding a recent opening in the floor. Also excluded are a concrete water
tank on the roof constructed in the 1960s; a steel staircase and a variety of
cables and conduits fixed to the exterior of the tower, however the structure
of the tower where all these features stand or are attached to it is included.
The modern electricity sub-station on a concrete plinth alongside the base of
the tower, where it falls with the monument's protective margin is excluded,
although the ground beneath it is included.

The original fabric of the building, to which many of these later items are
attached, is included in the scheduling, along with such original fixtures as
the cast iron cooking range, the drainage system and the exterior doors on the
first floor and roof of the tower.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Eleven martello towers were originally constructed along the 20km stretch of
Essex coastline known as the Clacton Beach, some adding to existing batteries
or replacing earlier signal stations. The line of towers, identified by the
letters A to K, ran from Stone Point on the north bank of the Colne Estuary
northwards to Walton on the Naze - with a large circular redoubt at Harwich
punctuating the northern end. In addition to tower K, five others now remain
standing and are similarly scheduled: those at Stone Point (A), Jaywick (C),
Eastness (D), Clacton Wash (E) and central Clacton (F).

Martello tower K, the most northerly of the Essex towers, survives well. It
has seen some 20th century alterations, but the structure remains
substantially intact and retains many details and features dating from the
period of construction. In addition, this strategic position also retains a
rare example of the contemporary forward battery (in this case built before
the tower), one of only two now remaining along the Clacton Beach section of
the east coast line. This combination of defensive structures, especially when
viewed together with the other surviving towers along this coastline, provides
a significant insight into a period when modern Britain faced the most serious
threat of invasion prior to the major conflicts of the 20th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Walker, K, 'The Essex Review (October 1938)' in Martello Towers And the Defence of NE Essex in the Napoleonic War, , Vol. 188, (1938), 171-85
Walker, K, 'The Essex Review (October 1938)' in Martello Towers And the Defence of NE Essex in the Napoleonic War, , Vol. 188, (1939), 171-85
discussions with owner, Watling, B, Martello Tower K - recent use, (1998)
Recollections of modern use by tenant, Halls, J, The Tower K Battery, (1998)

Source: Historic England

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