Nelson’s Tower

Nelson’s Tower can be seen from miles away its prominent position on the top of Cluny Hill, marks the town, particularly as you approach from the west.

The 21-metre-high octagonal structure was built in the early 19th century by the ‘Forres Trafalgar Club’ to commemorate the victory of Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar.

The building was adopted by the Forres Heritage Trust in recent years, and they now care for it, along with the Tolbooth in the centre of town.

Nelson’s Tower, Spring 2021. Pic: Marc Hindley
A print made in 1827 by William Daniell
(CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported), William Daniell, Nelson’s Tower, Forres, 1827)

The foundation stone was laid by James Brodie of Brodie on the 26 August 1806 with coins and a parchment being laid beneath it. It was completed in 1810 and opened up to the public on Trafalgar Day 21 October 1812, seven years after the battle.

It is normally open from April to September and has four levels including the ground floor and rooftop. A viewing platform was installed on the roof in 2018, which adds just enough elevation to be able to see over the parapet, allowing an uninterrupted view of the town, Findhorn Bay, and surrounding area, if you can manage the 96 narrow steps to the top!

Getting to Nelson’s Tower

The walk to the tower weaves through the woodlands of Cluny Hill, a pleasant adventure in its own right. You can start from the prominent avenue of lime trees leading from South Street, or you can park in the car park at the east end of Grant Park. There are also pedestrian access from St Leonard’s Road.

Tha walk to Nelson's Tower weaves through the woodland of Cluny Hill
Signposts point the way to Nelson’s Tower

It was the first of many monuments to Nelson, and the most northerly, built to celebrate the man regarded as Britain’s greatest naval war hero, including famously, Nelson’s Column in London, but also in Scotland at Glasgow, Oban and Taynuilt.

An interesting fact that is largely unknown is that an almost identical tower exists a few miles to the east.

A tower on a hill at Knock of Alves is also octagonal and built some 20 years after Nelson’s Tower to commemorate the birth of the Duke of York.

Colours of Cluny

Nelson’s Tower was the centrepiece for a sound and light show that happened in 2016 and 2017. The Colours of Cluny featured a trail of lights and sounds through the Cluny Woods and culminating at the tower. The show ran for three weeks in November of each year.

Picture: Marc Hindley

Leave a comment