Ever fancied exploring a Martello Tower? Now you can! You have the choice of a video, navigating your own way around by downloading a game style fly-through or a full virtual reality experience.
What can I see? The model shows the Towers in their Napoleonic heyday and the dark days of 1940 when they were pressed into front line military service again. We think this is the first time that gaming technology has been used to interpret a historic building in this way.
The results are a fully immersive virtual tour. You can watch the fly-through video below but it’s even better here where you can get the full screen experience. If you don't have a game console you can use your keyboard’s navigation buttons.
Alternatively you can download the full Oculus Rift version or 360 images for Gear VR. The download will also work as an amazing true Virtual Reality experience if you have an Oculus Rift heads up display visor. You'll need at least a 3.2Ghz Quad Core processor, Nvidia 580GTX or above, 8GB of RAM, 2GB hard drive space, game controller, DK2 HMD.
What’s the history of the Towers? The East Coast Martello Towers were built at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, between about 1812 and 1816. Each fort packed a 24 pounder cannon, two 18 pounder howitzers, and walls up to 2.5m thick. Originally there were 29 of them between Clacton and Aldeburgh, and together they formed an interlocking strategic defence line and deterrent to invasion. They were comparable in cost and controversy to today's Trident Missile Programme.
Can I explore a real Tower? None of the surviving Suffolk examples are open to the public except for special events. Martello Towers are quite cramped with steep staircases and ladders between floors. Also, they are all either heavily modified, derelict or unsafe, so a virtual recreation is the best way for anyone to explore them. None of the TtT staff are into computer games but we’ve been blown away by the virtual reality experience – we hope you will be too!
How did you make this? Martello Tower Z and the basement of Martello Tower P were scanned using lasers by The Downland Partnership. From these scans Digital Surveys created a Virtual 3D Martello Tower for you to explore from the comfort of your own laptop. The scans will also serve as an important historical record.