A GLIMPSE of what life was like for the troops who manned the town’s defences against invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte can now be gained at Bexhill Museum.
Bill Hill, the retired architect who reconditioned the museum’s original scale model of the De La Warr Pavilion and painstakingly created its model of the former Kursaal entertainment hall, has been at work again.
His 1/37th scale model shows a typical Martello Tower. It is sectioned, allowing the viewer to peek inside. There, protected by massively thick walls, are shown the means to withstand prolonged attack from the sea – the living quarters, the food stores, ammunition for the cannon which topped the structure and the means to collect and store rainwater.
Some 74 of these circular fortified buildings were erected along the South Coast at the start of the 19th Century as a counter-measure to the threat of invasion by Napoleon.
The dominant feature was the 24-pounder on the gun-deck roof. This had full 360 degree traverse and could be supplemented if required by smaller calibre swivel guns.
Under the gun-deck roof were the main living quarters of the officer and 15-25 soldiers plus general storage.
On the lower main floor were all the bulk storage areas for munitions and general provisions. Below this in underground chambers were reservoirs designed to collect water via a downpipe system from the roof.
The 40ft high, towers were inspired by the defences at Mortella Point, Corsica.Bexhill had 12 such small fortresses –towers 44 to 56. All bar no. 55 at Normans Bay either long-since lost to the sea or demolished.