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Chester Shot Tower: Everything you need to know about the city's tallest structure

A potted history of the Grade II* listed building

Chester's Shot Tower before regeneration of the canal-side area(Image: Paul Hurley & Len Morgan, Chester Through Time, Amberley Publishing.)

Plumes of smoke billowed from Chester Shot Tower today as firefighters battled to bring a blaze under control , but what’s the history behind the canal-side landmark?

A familiar sight on Chester’s skyline, the Grade II* listed brick tower is the oldest of the three remaining shot towers in the UK and possibly the oldest structure of its kind still standing in the world.

Built in 1799 by Walkers, Parker and Co, one of its first uses was to make lead shot for muskets in the Napoleonic Wars.

It was one of the first to manufacture lead shot using inventor William Watts’ less labour-intensive method of pouring molten lead through a pierced copper plate or sieve at the top of the tower, with the falling drops forming balls of shot for the muskets.

Lead was one of Chester’s major industries during the 1800s and the shot tower was still in use up until 2001.

The majority of the leadworks buildings were demolished more than a decade ago to accommodate regeneration of the area alongside the Shropshire Union Canal, but the historic tower survived.

Planning consent for a residential and commercial scheme incorporating the structure was granted in October 2012.

Controversy over the plans featured in a 2013 episode of BBC2 documentary The Planners.

Planning permission was granted for the shot tower development in Chester’s Canal Quarter in October 2012 but building work has never started

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