Description of Historic Place
CFB Esquimalt, Bickford Tower, Building # D118 stands on Grant Knoll, a commanding position overlooking Esquimalt Harbour. It is a four-storey, lighthouse-like, octagonal brick tower topped by a glazed signal room. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
CFB Esquimalt, Bickford Tower, Building # D118 is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
CFB Esquimalt, Bickford Tower, Building # D118 is a very good example of a military structure integral to the defence system of the original Royal Naval complex at Esquimalt. Among the last of Britain’s Imperial defence works, Esquimalt was headquarters of the Pacific station of the Royal Navy from 1865 to 1905. CFB Esquimalt, Bickford Tower, Building # D118 was a purpose-built structure for visual communication via semaphore, signal flag or other means. It became obsolete with the introduction of a military telephone system two years after its construction.
CFB Esquimalt, Bickford Tower, Building # D118 is a good example of a coastal defence-signalling tower, and the only existing Canadian example. Its concrete floor and foundations are an example of the early use of this building material in military architecture.
Overlooking Esquimalt harbour, CFB Esquimalt, Bickford Tower, Building # D118 is a well-known landmark for both military and civilian vessels navigating the harbour entrance. Standing on Grant Knoll, a former island now joined to the mainland, the tower helps to define the narrow entrance and reinforce the present character of the Canadian Forces Base at Esquimalt.
Bickford Tower Building D118, CFB Esquimalt, Esquimalt, British Columbia, Heritage Character Statement 87-138.
The character-defining elements of CFB Esquimalt, Bickford Tower, Building # D118 should be respected.
Its functional design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the four-storey lighthouse-like octagonal column of brick with brick corbel gables beneath the projecting concrete and iron floor of the glazed signal room;
-the eight-facetted conical roof of the glazed signal room;
-the simply designed railing around the external gallery of the signal room with attachments for flagstaff and semaphore post;
-the tower’s narrow door and window openings with corbelled segmented arches, stone windowsills and wooden sash, and the glazing of the signal room’s doors and windows;
-the four interior levels interconnected by steep, narrow, wooden stairs;
-the concrete floor and foundations.
The manner in which CFB Esquimalt, Bickford Tower, Building # D118 is a familiar landmark as evidenced by:
-its situation on the attractive peninsula of Grant Knoll, where it helps to define the narrow entrance to Esquimalt Harbour;
-its familiarity as a landmark to those frequenting CFB Esquimalt, and also to Maritime traffic.