At 263 feet tall, Clifton Hill Shot Tower vies with Taroona Shot Tower as the tallest in the world. Built in 1882, it is also the oldest of two remaining towers in Melbourne. The other is Coop’s Shot Tower, which now houses a museum dedicated to the history of Melbourne and shot production.
In the 19th century, shot towers were the most efficient mode of producing ammunition. Though ingenious, the technique was surprisingly analog: workers would ascend the precarious spiraling staircase to a small pavilion at the top of the tower.
From there, they would drop a ball of molten lead through a copper sieve into a basin of water at the bottom of the tower. The fall would cool and shape the lead into shot pellets. This method was used until the early 1960s, when a manufacturing style that required significantly less tower supplanted it.