Duke of York Martello Tower

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Duke of York Martello Tower (1796-1890s) - A British colonial Martello tower established in 1798 by Prince Edward, fourth son of King George III, at the York Redoubt, in present day Halifax, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, Canada. Officially named York Redoubt on 20 Oct 1798 for the Duke of York by his brother Prince Edward. Designed by Captain James Stratton, Commanding Royal Engineer. Abandoned in 1890s after a fire caused the removal of the upper floor.

Duke of York Martello Tower with two Camponiers alongside (outside wall view)
Duke of York Martello Tower Interpretive Sign
The Remaining First Story of the Duke of York Martello Tower Flanked by Camponiers (inside wall view)

Duke of York Martello Tower History

Part of the Harbor Defense of Halifax.

One of five Martello Towers built for the defense of Halifax Harbor. The towers were mainly designed to provide land side protection for water facing batteries. The five Halifax Harbor Martello Towers were:

Halifax Harbor Martello Towers
Tower Built Designed by Fort Location Notes
Prince of Wales Martello Tower 1796 Capt. James Straton Point Pleasant
Duke of Clarence Martello Tower 1798 Capt. James Straton Fort Clarence Dartmouth
Duke of York Martello Tower 1798 Capt. James Straton York Redoubt
Fort Charlotte Martello Tower 1812 Capt. Gustavus Nicolls Fort Charlotte (2) George's Island
Sherbrooke Martello Tower 1814 Col. Gustavus Nicolls Magruder's Beach
on McNab's Island

The tower was built to replace a blockhouse that had been built to protect a two gun water facing battery. As the battery expanded to eight guns the tower was built to protect the land side of the battery and the stockade that surrounded the battery and the tower.

The Duke of York Tower was built of ironstone as a circular tower 30' high, with a diameter at the base of 40 to 50'. The tower was originally two stories high with guns positioned on the roof, barracks on the second level and a magazine on the first level. A central staircase provided access to all levels. Atop the roof was a signal mast that served to communicate with the Halifax Citadel and other harbor posts.

Although rendered obsolete as a defensive fortification by the 1860s the tower remained intact and continued in use as a signal station until a fire destroyed the upper floor in the 1890s. In 1877, prior to the fire the tower was made a part of the new enclosing wall of the redoubt and two camponiers were built into the wall alongside two sides of the tower. The upper floor was removed after the fire and the tower was reduced to the present single story.

Current Status

Part of the York Redoubt National Historic Site, Halifax, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, Canada. The interior of the tower is not open to the public. The exterior of the tower can be viewed from the grounds of the redoubt. No period guns or mounts visible.


Location: York Redoubt National Historic Site, Halifax, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, Canada

Maps & Images

Lat: 44.597347 Long: -63.553411

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Visited: 23 Jun 2013


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