Semaphore Tower, Surrey
The only remaining semaphore tower in Britain
Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower will be restored and given new life as a Landmark for all to enjoy
The Semaphore Tower on Chatley Heath in Surrey is the only surviving semaphore tower in Britain. Complete with a working semaphore mast, it is a unique remnant from the Napoleonic era.
The Grade II* tower was once a vital link in a signalling chain that transmitted messages in just a few minutes from Admiralty House in London to Portsmouth Docks. Now sadly it has fallen into disrepair, with water seeping into its fine brickwork. The water ingress has reached a critical point , threatening the mast's stability and the tower's structural integrity.
Thanks to the generosity of over 1,000 wonderful supporters, the Semaphore Tower’s future is secure and restoration work will begin later this year.
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
In desperate need of repair
The Semaphore Tower lends itself well to reuse as a Landmark. It was always a domestic building as well as an operational structure, built to house the naval lieutenant who operated the signals, and his family.
It will make a magical Landmark for four, its renewed roof a wonderful spot to enjoy long 360 degree views to London and the Home Counties, its refurbished machinery a living lesson in technological and engineering history. The setting of the tower near Wisley in Surrey is a SSSI site surrounded by woodland and heathland rich with moths and butterflies.
View our full plans
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.