Swanage and Purbeck Gallery

The Gallery

The Wellington Tower near Peveril Point

The Wellington Tower near Peveril Point

The Wellington Tower near Peveril Point

A view across Swanage Bay from the jetty next to the Lifeboat station. In the foreground is the Wellington Clock Tower, and in the distance is Buck Shore and Swanage Pier.

The Wellington clock tower has an intriguing history. Originally constructed in 1854 by the Commissioners for Lighting the West Division of Southwark, it initially graced the southern terminus of London Bridge. This architectural feat was envisioned as a tribute to the recently departed Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington. However, financial limitations prevented the inclusion of a statue of the Duke atop the tower, as initially planned. The tower featured a four-faced clock, internally illuminated, and a modest telegraph office.

Within a decade, the tower's significance was overshadowed by the emergence of nearby railway structures, which began to obstruct traffic flow on the bridge. As a result, the tower was dismantled in 1867.

The tower's fate took an unexpected turn thanks to George Burt, a contractor based in Swanage. He undertook the task of preserving the tower and transported it back to his hometown, albeit without the clock mechanism. In an act of generosity, Burt presented the tower to his colleague and fellow contractor, Thomas Docwra. Docwra then reassembled the tower within the grounds of his residence at Peveril Point.

In 1904, subsequent owners chose to remove the spire from the tower. Nevertheless, the structure remains a significant and recognizable landmark within the town, garnering protection as a Grade II-listed building in 1952.

Image Ref: VS 2434

Year: 2023

Copyright: Andrew Dorey

Photographer: Andrew Dorey

Tags: Clock TowerPierSwanage