Its a place many people would have NEVER heard about let alone know what its actually is! Come take a visit with us to the only standing 'shot tower' in the Southern Hemisphere...
We ventured to Taroona, about 10 kilometres out of Hobart, as we had heard about this historic Shot Tower, and we just had to go check it out. Now, this tower was built for one purpose, and it had nothing to do with tourists, or drinking shots. It all had to do with turning a highly hazardous mix of hot lead, arsenic and antimony into ammunition.
Now, the builder of the shot tower, Scotsman Joseph Moir, claimed that he built the tower in about 8 months. This however is far from true, and evidence amongst the structure has found that it took him about 8 years to build it.
Now, Joseph was the Engineer, Architect, Carpenter, builder and overseer of the two stone masons he had employed to assist him. To add to this, Joseph had to discover how to become a ‘shot-maker’, and due to his perseverance, he became an award winning, master shot-maker.
The shot tower was finished in early 1870, and after many attempts and trials, the first shot was dropped on 8thSeptember 1870.
The Shot Tower is 60 metres tall, the tower base is 10 metres in diameter and the walls are 1 metre thick. The tower is tapered as it climbs towards the sky, where it is 3.9 metres in diameter and the walls are no more than a metre thick. The stairs (except for the top six) are all original wood, and very safe to walk on. There are 318 steps, but you better count them to make sure we got the number correct!
So, what was The Shot Tower actually used for?
Well in simple terms it was built to make lead spherical bullets for muzzle loading sporting guns in the late and early 19thcentury.
and..... How did that work? The metallic stew of hot lead, arsenic and antimony was mixed in a factory (now coffee shop) downstairs. There is a theory that he often mixed on non-windy days, as the smell would blow into town, and upset the folk. We personally think it had more to do with the arsenic floating downtown on the wind, could not imagine that happening today!
The hot metallic stew was poured into ingots and cooled, before being carried up-stairs, to the top of the tower, and re-smelted, where it was then poured through a steel plate that had holes drilled in it – much like a colander. The lead droplets became spherical as they fell into cooling water at the base.
While shot towers were common around the world, The Shot Tower in Taroona, is the last one standing. You will not see another one anywhere, so make sure to pay it a visit, learn a bit of history and marvel at the construction.