Mason Boy’s Tower

Standing close to Fort Road at the junction of the old Military Road leading to Stokes Bay Golf Club is an enigmatic, small, triangular stone tower. It is sometimes misidentified as the Gilkicker tower that was demolished many years earlier.

In 1929 the ‘R.E. Mason Boys’ erected this tower, as a practice piece, just because they could. Yes, a folly! But it also had a practical purpose. It held a clock (with three clock faces). The Army needed to know the time, and the apprentices would certainly not want to be late for classes and duty.

Why was it this shape? Triangular in plan and of three tiers. The R.E.s would certainly have known of the two great sea marks that dominated the area before Fort Monckton was built. The Kickergill and Gilkicker towers (circa 1643). Gilkicker sea mark stood on the side of Hasleworth Castle until the building of Fort Monckton in the late C18 when it was demolished but Kickergill survived for many years, until wantonly destroyed by Gosport Borough Council in June 1965 under the pretext of ‘road widening’. So perhaps the R.E. Mason Boys wanted to replace Gilkicker with a smaller reminder of the past to go with the (then) still surviving Kickergill.

It is triangular because Kickergill was triangular, and so perhaps was Gilkicker. This seems to be the only plausible explanation for its shape. Expel the myths: There is no truth in the rumour that the tower has a tunnel running from it to the fort! It was not used as a beacon or sea mark, or measured mile marker, it was not visible from the sea. We almost lost it. In May 1961 the War Office informed Gosport Borough Council that it proposed to remove the ‘present disused masonry clock tower’ at junction of the main road and path to Fort Monckton, and re-erect in Chepstow; Gosport Borough Council replied that they had no objection. Luckily it was only the clocks that were removed. I wonder who persuaded the council to leave the tower but I am glad they did. It is a quaint, but enigmatic structure that deserves a bit more love and attention. The council obviously look after it but should it not have a clock?