Semaphore Tower, Surrey

The only remaining semaphore tower in Britain

Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower 2018

Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower will be restored and given new life as a Landmark for all to enjoy

We’re delighted to have started work to restore the Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower. A unique remnant from the Napoleonic era, the Grade II* listed brick structure is the only surviving semaphore tower in Britain. It was once a cutting-edge building at the forefront of technology and design, a vital link in a signalling chain that transmitted messages from Admiralty House in London to Portsmouth Docks in just a few minutes. But in recent years water ingress has threatened the structural integrity of the building to an alarming degree.

Thanks to the generosity of over 1,000 supporters to our public appeal, experienced contractors Valley Builders are now beginning to sympathetically and sensitively restore the structure. We are transforming the site into self-catering holiday accommodation for up to four people, and look forward to welcoming visitors from near and far for holidays and free open days on completion.  

Read about our plans for Semaphore tower

Semaphore Tower view across Chatley Heath

A vital signalling link for the Royal Navy

In 1794, news reached London of a new signalling system, developed by the French, which could send messages hundreds of miles in a matter of minutes - the semaphore. The technological race was on; the British needed their own signalling system.

For a time, a form of 'shutter' telegraph was used, which was slow and inefficient in poor weather. However, within weeks of the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, orders were issued for the construction of a more efficient semaphore, formed of a mast with moveable arms.

Completed in 1822, the chain of fifteen signalling stations transmitted vital messages back and forth between London and Portsmouth for over 20 years. The Semaphore Tower at Chatley Heath was the only five-storey tower in the line, and it is the only early 19th-century  semaphore station to survive unaltered.  

Read about the history of the Semaphore tower

Thank you to our supporters

We are hugely grateful to all those who have supported the appeal for Semaphore Tower, including:

Guardians of Semaphore Tower and other lead supporters:

Mrs S Andrew, Mr A Baker, Dr J Bull, Dr P Corry, Ms S Darling, Dr C Guettler and Ms J Graham, Mr S and Mrs R Jordan, Dr and Mrs B Moxley, Mr M Seale, Mr D Simon, Ms M Swann, Mr J Thompson, Mrs P Thompson, Mr W Tsutsui

Patrons and other generous individuals:

Mr R Baker, Mr D Brine, Mrs M Clark, Mr G Clayton, Mrs D Ford, Dr R Gurd and Ms M Black, Mr D Haunton, Mr D Holberton, Mr A Jardine, Mr N and Mrs W Kingon, Ms V Knapp, Mrs P Maitland Dougall, Mr S Martin, Professor R Mayou, Mr N Merry, Mrs P Nasr, Mr B Preston, Mr M Simms, Dr P Strangeway

Gifts in Wills and in memory:

In memory of Mr P Harris

Charitable Trusts and Statutory Grants:

The H B Allen Charitable Trust, Felix Foundation, , Martha David Fund, Mintaka Trust, The Sargent Charitable Trust, RV and RH Simons Charitable Trust, Peter Stormonth Darling Charitable Trust

We thank all who have supported the appeal, including other Guardians, Patrons and trusts who have chosen to remain anonymous.