Thursday, 12 May 2011

Sway Towers over the World

My Victor Meldrew moment today! That annoying advert currently running on UK TV which tag lines the phrase 'Wake up Happy!'( It's an online Hotel booking chain) Please leave him alone, whats he done that the others didn't have a hand in, I refer to Bashful, Doc, Dopey Grumpy, Sleepy & Sneezy...Leave Happy Alone!!
Lets start again... Today I'm still in love with Sway, after yesterday my faith has been renewed in this beautiful forest village. Lyn and I live just a few miles away from it and it has a very famous claim to fame in these modern times. I am referring to Sway Tower, the tallest non re-in forced concrete structure in the world, it is 220ft tall.
Locally it has been claimed as the eighth wonder of the world. It can only be Sway Tower. Rumour has it that the architect of the tower had gained his experience building over 50 churches, and he is certainly responsible for one of the finest Renaissance Cathedrals in Europe, St Paul's in London. Sir Christopher Wren was born in 1632 and was originally an astronomer. Of course many people are aware that Sway Tower was actually built by Mr Peterson between 1879 and 1885. There were actually two towers built, the smallest is here on the right.
There are many legends about the 220ft high tower and the most well known says that Peterson had the tower built as a tomb in which he would be buried, some say at the top and others say at the bottom. Not so well known is the story of Mr Peterson's assistant, a certain Sir Christopher Wren ( mathematicians please note he would have been a sprightly 247 years young at this time!) Legend has it that Peterson consulted Wren on numerous occasions during the tower building using the services of a medium! Without his help Peterson's Tower would probably have fallen years ago because the foundations were amended by Wren when he found them unsuitable for supporting the structure. Who Knows? Perhaps the dome at the top of the tower is a hint from the mysterious architect?
I just think that Peterson's idea for this folly, building it with walls over 2 feet thick out of concrete in the 1880's is the mark of an innovator who deserves recognition for all the tall concrete structures that have followed. He may have been a little eccentric and devout but it's people like Peterson who pushed out human boundaries. When Sway Tower was completed in 1885 it was the tallest concrete structure in the world! It still remains the tallest un re-inforced concrete structure in the world today. Built 126 years ago and it's still standing !


  1. I quite agree - leave poor Happy alone LOL

  2. You've forgotten the story about it being a light house (for the boat builders) and the other one,where someone got the plans upside down,as it was really going to be a well. (Or is that another story?) I always believed he was buried under it in the end, because it would have added a few more feet,if he'd been buried on the top, which would mean it would've needed a flashing beacon, to warn off low flying elephants, I mean planes.
    Never mind Happy, why do they always shoot at Will??

  3. Mr Wren certainly knew how to make things last so some of it must have rubbed off onto his friend Mr Peterson.