Built as a copy of the tower that the men had trained under near Newtownards in Northern Ireland, the tower marks the site of the Schwaben redoubt against which the men of Ulster advanced on the 1st July 1916.
The original tower was built in 1867 by the Marquis of Dufferin and Ava on his Clandeboye Estate in County Down. He dedicated the structure to his mother and it thus became known as Helen’s Tower.
The Ulster Volunteer Force’s training camp was just below the tower and it was for many the last familiar sight they would see on leaving Ireland for the Western Front.
The tower is dedicated:
To the Glory of God in grateful memory of the Officers, non-commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, and of the sons of Ulster in other forces who laid down their lives in The Great War, and of all their comrades-in-arms, who by divine grace were spared to testify to their glorious deeds.
It was built by Fenning and Co Ltd of Hammersmith on land purchased from three separate families.
The tower was opened on the 19th November 1921 by Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson.
Inside the tower is a small chapel with a number of paintings and a large collection plaques from military units and the various towns and boroughs of Northern Ireland.
One of the paintings shows the men of the Division going over the top wearing their Orange Sashes as a reminder of their Protestant faith.
At the entrance to the tower is a plaque commemorating the names of the nine men of the Division who were awarded the Victoria Cross during the Somme.
Behind the tower and to its right is a small garden. There you will find a memorial commemorating the part played by members of the Orange Order during the battle.
Thiepval Wood opposite the Tower is also owned by the Somme Association and it is possible to organise a visit to the trenches within by contacting Teddy Colligan at the Tower.
It should be stressed that visits to the trenches within the wood are only available on guided tours organised by the staff at the Ulster Tower.
Munitions are still being found during the excavation work on the trenches so it is important to remain with a member of the staff.
Never touch anything you find on the ground.
There is a highly popular café just to the left behind the tower where you can find a cup of tea and a sandwich as well as books and souvenirs.
There is a small museum filled with bits and pieces found both on the site and within the wood. Regimental histories describe all of the Irish Regiments and there is a short video in a viewing room.
Toilets are available (Others to be found nearby are at the Thiepval Centre and the Newfoundland Park).
|Open||Tuesday to Sunday|
|March – April||1000 hours to 1700 hours|
|May – September||1000 hours to 1800 hours|
|October – November||1000 hours to 1700 hours|
|1st July||In the early afternoon|
|Armistice Day||In the early morning|
In front of the wood you will find the Connaught Cemetery.
On the opposite side of the Ancre and within view of the tower you can see Ancre Cemetery where many of the Royal Irish Fusiliers are buried following their attack on the 1st July 1916.
Within the immediate area