Historic watchtower on Freshwater cliffs to be demolished next month

Local resident Daniel James says if the local landmark was repaired it could form a tourism asset offering a viewpoint for bird watchers and walkers on the coastal path

A still from the Isle of Wight Archive's film of the Cliff End observation tower

A demolition application for a two-storey observation tower believed to date from the Second World War has been made to the Isle of Wight council. Demolition is scheduled for 9th July.

The steel and reinforced concrete watch tower on the cliff edge above Fort Albert in Freshwater is currently closed to the public.

Locally-listed heritage asset
Part of the cantilever roof lip on the upper storey has fallen off, although the majority of the structure remains.

The video below show the original roof intact – courtesy of the Isle of Wight Archive.

If repaired, could form a tourism asset
Local resident, Daniel James, commented,

“Cliff End Battery is a locally-listed heritage asset, but there is no heritage report in this application for demolition. Local people are not aware of this application, which has only just been released to the press by the Isle of Wight Council, with one weeks’ notice of the end of the consultation on 3rd July.”

“There are no details whatsoever of measures which could be taken to protect the Cliff End Battery or the adjacent Fort Victoria Site of Importance for Nature Conservation from damage during the demolition of the observation tower. Nor are there any details of measures which will be taken to restore the battery or the nature conservation site after demolition.”

“The observation tower is a landmark on the cliff edge, and if repaired, could form a tourism asset offering a viewpoint for bird watchers and walkers on the coastal path.  As a former military station manned by soldiers from Golden Hill Fort and elsewhere, the battery could attract heritage grants for restoration, and the tower used to provide information to visitors about the history of the area.”

Objections to demolition of the tower can be made using the link on the council’s Website.

News shared by Daniel James. Ed

Thursday, 25th June, 2020 6:24pm


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2nKU

Filed under: Freshwater, Isle of Wight News, Planning, Top story, West Wight

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below must comply with the Commenting 'House Rules' and are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

Leave your Reply

8 Comments on "Historic watchtower on Freshwater cliffs to be demolished next month"

newest oldest most voted

Looking at the observation tower’s proximity to the edge of the cliff, Mother Nature will, in the next few years, settle the argument and put an end to any thoughts of long term preservation.

Daniel James

Hi Lionel, there is the 19th century battery underneath the watch tower, and a great deal of WWII concrete on this stretch of the cliff. There’s been a battery here since 1798, so it’s probably as stable as any other part of the Island’s coastline. I’ve seen no signs of movement to the watch tower walls.


I would suggest that the insurance cost of providing PL cover to be greater than the worth of the structure

Daniel James

The tower has no commercial value, I agree, like many of our heritage assets on the coast. All public facilities have to have liability insurance these days, so if people think the tower is useful, the insurance would be part of its upkeep.


If Daniel James wants to keep this eyesore then he should pay for its restoration.

Rhos yr Alarch

Does that mean that if there’s a successful crowdfunding campaign, it could be saved…?

Daniel James

First we would have to ensure that it doesn’t get demolished. We have about a week and a half to the decision deadline.

Daniel James

I’d be happy to chip in, thanks for the suggestion.