I attended the Storm Tower (Compass Point) consultation meeting last night, which was interesting and informative for those who chose to attend. Held at the Parkhouse, it was open to all.
The tower is a Grade II listed building which needs, from a heritage perspective, to be moved before it falls into the sea. With constant coastal erosion taking place at Compass Point, it was only a matter of time before the Storm Tower would need to be relocated. Originally moved inland to its current position in 1881, 140 years later the Storm Tower is again teetering on the edge of the cliff, exposed to the perils of the sea below.
Francesca from Bude Council led the meeting, with some of the expert consultants also present to answer technical questions.
This is what Historic England (who listed it in 1985) says about the Storm Tower:
Small tower said to have been built as refuge for coastguard but also ornamental. 1835, designed by George Wightwick for Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 10th Baronet. Roughly-dressed stone brought to course with freestone quoins. Octagonal tower described by Wightwick as “after the Temple of the Winds at Athens”. Tower stands on plinth with 3 granite steps up to entrance on east side. Entrance has entablature and pediment on freestone pilasters. Each side has slit window with stone sill, those to north-east and north-west blocked. The points of the compass are carved as a frieze in sans-serif below the moulded cornice. Low pyramidal roof with moulded base to cross formerly surmounting tower. Interior has slate floor and brick dressings to slit windows. Sir Thomas Dyke Acland owned Ebbingford Manor in Bude and regularly stayed at Efford Cottage on the Breakwater. Sir Thomas Acland played a large part in the C19 development of Bude and the Bude Canal was partly built on Acland land. George Wightwick of Plymouth was John Foulston’s partner and succeeded to Foulston’s architectural practice. He designed a number of buildings in Bude for Sir Thomas Acland including the chapel of St Michael and All Angels.
The aim is to preserve the tower for another 100 years, and the heritage aim is to try to maintain the sight lines (a sight line is an unobstructed line of sight (or view) extending from a viewer to some object or landscape in the distance). This involves dismantling the tower, brick by brick.
The storm tower was originally built true north which was later changed to keep the views. The two issues under discussion were orientation and the roof.
In terms of cost, Cornwall Council pledged £50k to the project, Bude-Stratton Town Council pledged £25k, a Crowdfunder raised £60k in 7 weeks, and a lottery bid for £249k has been submitted.
Between March and August, 2021, site surveys have been undertaken, and consultations with structural engineers and a conservation architect have been made.
2022 is the year for the proposed dismantling and rebuilding but before then, there is a good deal of community engagement planned.
If the Council did nothing, the cliffs will erode towards the tower, which would classify it as a dangerous structure, while the slope may also become dangerously unstable. The structure could unexpectedly collapse.
The tower was rebuilt in 1881, when the building was rotated slightly . The east elevation contains a door facing east-north-east rather than true east, which it is believed were to ensure views of the sea and the now gone coastguard station for the coastguard. So, technically, I guess we shouldn’t call it ‘Compass Point’.
The current roof is concrete which will be difficult and expensive to replace. Alternatives include steel and metal cladding (zinc) or timber and slate tiles. This info is all in the foyer of the Parkhouse for people to view.
Plans are afoot to create a walking and digital trail taking in the storm tower, called “Time Tripping Through Bude”. and there are also plans for a weather station in the tower, a time capsule and an exhibition at the Castle.
The planning application has to be submitted by 3rd September to reach timescale.