Martello Towers were positioned along the south east coast line in positions that permitted at least two towers to fire on any invading vessel within range during the Napoleonic War. Named after similar constructions in Martella, Spain, the towers were built to defend low-points on the coastline between Folkstone (Number 1) and Seaford (Number 74) with a spacing of approximately a quarter of a mile between them. The towers themselves were on the whole two storey structures, with a gun position on top capable of being traversed through a full circle. Immediately beneath the gun were located casemates, whilst on the ground floor were barracks for housing the troops stationed there. Entry to the tower was generally via a first-floor door with a removable ladder, and the whole structure surrounded by a ditch, thus increasing the close-in defensibility of the structure.
There were a number of towers in the immediate vicinity of Hastings - these being towers 38 (Pett) to 43 (Bulverhythe) - although none survive to this day. Much of the coastline of Hastings was not considered suitable for a Napoleonic invasion, so there is a notable gap from Fairlight to Harley Shute, however then a number follow in rapid succession - numbers 39 to 43 - possibly due to the low-lying land behind Bulverhythe Salts. Two local towers were known to have been utilised to test Armstrong Artillery.
Towers referenced in this wiki
Number 39 tower was known to be located at Bopeep and during the early 19th century was pressed into service as a jail for five smugglers who had been caught running tubs on the 28th of December 1828. Unfortunately, it proved unequal to the task and all five men escaped.
Number 40 tower was reportedly a quarter of a mile to the west of St. Leonards and was the scene of a dramatic demonstration of the destructive power of gun-cotton in December of 1873.
Tower number 42 was off-shore between Bridge Way and Amsterdam Way. This tower was occupied by the Coastal Blockade and Coastguard during the 1830's. In 1832 a battle between smugglers broke out and two Coastguard men died as a result of gun shot wounds.The tower, like the others in this stretch, was damaged due to coastal erosion and subsequently demolished. The material reclaimed from the demolition was sold for 217 pounds 9 shillings 6 pence (about £13,000 today). Some of it was used in the construction of the chancel at St. Mark's Church, Little Common - brought by sea to Cooden Sea Road and taken up by cart
Number 48 tower was near Bexhill