Martello Tower, Tower Hill, Freetown


The Martello Tower is located at Tower Hill, just outside the grounds of Parliament Building. It was declared a national monument in 1961, just as Parliament buildings were underway, so that its historic value would be preserved.

The Martello tower was one of the earliest attempts to provide for the defense of the fledgling colony that was subject to frequent attacks by the nearby Thaimne rulers of the Peninsula but also by-passing European ships that extended conflict in Europe to these parts.

In 1803, the then Governor of the Colony, William Day, planned a construction of a defensive tower on what was then called Wansey Hill, being farmed by a European employee of the colonial Government, Nathaniel Wansey. Day chose to utilize the pattern of new fortifications being built along the south coast of England for defense against a possible French invasion. These were called the Martello Towers and Day got the design of the latest of these towers from the English Board of Ordinance.

On 11th April, 1805, Governor Day led a formal procession up Wansey Hill, thenceforth being called Tower Hill, for the foundation stone laying ceremony. After completion, the Martello Tower, as it was called, towered over the settlement. It was believed that no shot was fired from that tower in anger. But within twenty years the Martello Tower had virtually fallen into ruin from disuse and was partly demolished.

When pipe-borne water was brought to Freetown from the heights above Nicol Brook about 1870, the Martello Tower became useful to support this new development. On the base of the tower was now placed a huge iron water tank which came to control the supply of water to Government House.

The base of the water tank, the remains of the Martello Tower, still stands