Exploring Melbourne: Coop’s Shot Tower

Coop's Shot Tower, Melbourne Central shopping centre, Melbourne, Australia

Coop’s Shot Tower, Melbourne Central shopping centre, Melbourne, Australia’

Apart from eating and drinking my way round Melbourne with Gabe and Dave [Eat your way round St Kilda, Eat your way round central Melbourne and Exploring Melbourne:  Madame Brussels] I’d come to the city to work.  This was the starting point for my lecture tour with the Australian Decorative & Fine Arts Societies [ADFAS:  http://www.adfas.org.au], and as soon as I met my Melbourne host Christine Penfold I knew I was in good hands.

Christine brought to my hotel not only a fat folder of air-, train- and bus-tickets, but also a beautiful bowl of fruit to sustain me.  This told me that I was being looked after, as I had been with the New Zealand Decorative & Fine Art Societies, by warm-hearted, civilised people with imagination and a flair for enjoying life.

ADFAS put me up at the Mercure, Spring Gardens [http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-2086-mercure-melbourne-treasury-gardens/index.shtml] which meant that when I wasn’t needed for their programme I could find everything I wanted on the doorstep – food and wi-fi at the Spaghetti Tree [http://www.spaghettitree.com.au] and a memorable independent bookshop:  http://www.hillofcontentbookshop.com.

The one tourist site I fitted in within my work-schedule was the 165-feet-high Coops Shot Tower (1889) [http://www.walkingmelbourne.com/building543_coops-shot-tower.html] spectacularly enclosed in the dome of the Melbourne Central shopping-centre, built in 1991.

Built to manufacture lead shot by dropping molten lead through a copper sieve, it’s not even the tallest shot-tower in Melbourne:  the sister Clifton Hill Shot Tower of 1885, [http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/vhd/heritagevic#detail_places;295] built by the same Coops family, stands 263 feet high.

I’d never paid any attention to shot towers in the UK, though I knew there was one in Derby that was demolished in 1931-2 to make way for the bus station.

There are remaining examples in Chester (1799) [http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/details/default.aspx?id=205292], Twickenham (late 18th-/early 19th-century) [http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-205292-shot-tower-twickenham] and Bristol (1968) [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shot.tower.bristol.arp.jpg].

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