Melbourne’s other shot towers

A shot tower is a tall structure where molten lead is dropped from in order to create tiny spherical balls, and when Melbournians think of them, the one under the glass cone in the middle of the Melbourne Central shopping centre immediately comes to mind. However that isn’t the only one, or two, in Melbourne – but three!

Melbourne Central shot tower, uber wide angle

Coop’s Shot Tower

The most famous one, located in the middle of the Melbourne Central shopping centre.

Looking up at Coop’s Shot Tower beneath the Melbourne Central shopping centre cone

Completed in 1889, the square tower is 50 metres high, with 327 steps to the top.

The site produced six tonnes of shot weekly up until 1961, with the historic building saved from demolition in 1973 and was incorporated into Melbourne Central complex in 1991 underneath an 84 metre high conical glass roof.

Clifton Hill Shot Tower

Located beside Alexandra Parade, the Clifton Hill Shot Tower might be confused for a tall brick chimney.

Looking east along Alexandra Parade towards the Clifton Hill Shot Tower

This conical shot tower was completed in 1882 and is 80 metres tall, and was operated by the same Coops family who operated the shot tower in central Melbourne.

Ballantine Ammunition, Laverton North

And now for the wildcard entry to this list – this tower of steel beams in the back streets of Laverton North in Melbourne’s industrial west.

Ballantine Ammunition shot tower in the industrial back blocks of Laverton North

Operated by the small firm of Ballantine Ammunition, the 55 metres tall steel tower is of bolted steel girder construction, with a 4.5 tonne capacity lift used to lift lead ingots to the melting pot at the top. The resulting lead shot is loaded into 12 gauge shotgun cartridges, and sold to shooters who reload their own cartridges.

The tower was originally built by Eley Ammuntion at Deer Park, a division of ICI. Following a restructuring of their ammunition operations, the surplus equipment was put up for sale, and purchased by Eley engineer Mark Ballantine, who established Ballantine Ammunition in 1982 and relocated the tower to the current site in Laverton North.

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3 Responses to “Melbourne’s other shot towers”

  1. J says:

    Sadly, I think Ballantine’s might have closed. Their tower is now surrounded by wrecked cars – I think they may have sold or be leasing their property to some of the local wreckers.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I went past the back of their site the other week and saw those cars piled up – but it’s hard to tell whether they’re still going based on their limited online presence.

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