Cotton Tower Signal Station peeks above the surrounding sugar cane fields like a pink periscope surveying the lush ocean of Barbadian paradise.
Located in St. Joseph parish (near Bathsheba’s world-class surf break Soup Bowl), the tower is named after Lady Catherine Cotton, the daughter of Lord Combemere, the Governor of Barbados between 1817-1820.
The cotton-candy pink structure was part of the British military’s island-wide communication and defense network established after the 1816 Bussa slave rebellion.
Built in 1816 and opened in 1819 atop Barbados’s Horse Hill, operators of Cotton Tower used flags and lanterns to alert the system’s five other towers of military risks, arriving commercial vessels, approaching weather systems and public insurrection.
Today, the tower is managed by the Barbados National Trust but poor maintenance and the island’s tropical climate are slowly destroying the historic building. While it is possible to ascend the tower’s three flights of stairs (the other towers are all two-story) there’s not much to see. In earlier times, Cotton Tower Signal Station’s windows revealed stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean as its frothy waves pummeled Barbados’s Scotland District and its miles of rugged, lost-in-time beaches.