Braystones tower was erected 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, by local squire William Henry Watson. The tower is a listed Grade II building.
A commemorative tablet at the tower records the names of local worthies present at its unveiling (June 1897); another tablet records the names of those men of Braystones who served in the Great War.
The tower, when first built had floors, but is now a shell. It once housed a small museum of locally-found artifacts, such as Stone Age flints, axes and arrow heads, which is why there are bars on the windows. Those artifacts are now housed in the British Museum.
Braystones Tower sits on the outskirts of the village on the bank of the River Ehen, and is a prominent landmark from both the countryside around and the sea. It is known locally, as Watson’s Folly, after the gentleman that had it built.
Watson’s father, chemist William Hough Watson, invented Sunlight Soap, the world’s first packaged, branded laundry soap – he was a partner of the Lever Brothers company, which formed in 1884. Cash therefore, was no issue in the construction of the tower.
At its opening in 1897, Watson – a staunch royalist – proclaimed that an annual sports day would be held at the tower each year on Empire Day, May 24, when the union flag would be flown and the local children reminded of the glory and power of the British Empire. In subsequent years, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling competitions would also be held there.
In 1920 a war memorial commemorating the 10 local men who gave their lives in the First World War was added to the tower. It also honours local soldier Harry Christian, recipient of a prestigious Victoria Cross gallantry award. Christian was a 23-year-old private when he rescued three of his comrades from a crater at the height of a ferocious bombardment at Cuinchy, France, in 1915.