Redcliffe Shot Tower

The Redcliffe Shot Tower was a historic shot tower in the English city of Bristol. It was the progenitor of many similar towers built around the world. The tower stood at the corner of Redcliffe Hill and Redcliffe Parade, in the suburb of Redcliffe, between the years of 1782 and 1968.[1][2][3][4]

Redcliffe Shot Tower
The Shot Tower, Redcliff Hill (geograph 6053703).jpg
General information
TypeShot tower
Coordinates51°26′54″N 2°35′26″W / 51.448298°N 2.590599°W / 51.448298; -2.590599Coordinates: 51°26′54″N 2°35′26″W / 51.448298°N 2.590599°W / 51.448298; -2.590599
Construction started1775

In 1775, William Watts, a plumber, started converting his house, near St Mary Redcliffe Church, into the world's first shot tower, in order to make lead shot by his innovative tower process. He did this by adding a tower atop his house, and by excavating a shaft into the soft sandstone below, achieving a total drop of around 90 feet (27 m). By 1782, the tower was complete and in production, and Watts was granted a patent on his process, which involved pouring molten lead through a perforated zinc pan into water below.[1][2][5][6]

William Watts was declared bankrupt in 1794, but his tower survived various changes of ownership until it was taken over by the Sheldon Bush and Patent Shot Company Limited in 1868. The tower remained a well-known feature of Redcliffe until 1968, when it was demolished to make way for road improvements. The Sheldon Bush and Patent Shot Company's shot manufacture was transferred to the new Cheese Lane Shot Tower on the banks of the Floating Harbour.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ a b c Efstathios, Tsolis (2007-03-10). "An Awkward thing" (PDF). University of Bristol. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-03-22. Retrieved 2015-03-19.
  2. ^ a b c "Lead Working in Bristol". Archived from the original on 2015-03-22. Retrieved 2015-03-20.
  3. ^ a b Mosse, John. "Redcliff Shot Tower" (PDF). Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society (BIAS). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-03-22. Retrieved 2015-03-21.
  4. ^ "1904 Watt's old lead-shot tower in Redcliffe Hill, Bristol". Archived from the original on 2015-03-22. Retrieved 2015-03-22.
  5. ^ UK Patent No. 1347-1782: Small Shot Watt's Specification
  6. ^ Fells, Maurice (2014). The A - Z of Curious Bristol. History Press. pp. 77–78. ISBN 9780750956055.

External linksEdit