Saturday 21 May 2011

The Tesco Swift Tower, Crumlin, Northern Ireland

Contributed by Brian Cahalane

We asked Brian if he would write a piece about how he went about the Swift Tower in Crumlin, telling us of the challenges and successes along the way - here it is:

The Crumlin Tower is erected
I wrote to Sir Terence Leahy, CEO of Tesco PLC. explaining the plight of the swift throughout the British Isles and to ask if he would consider the erection of a Swift Tower at Tesco's new store which was due to open in my home town, Crumlin Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Only a short time elapsed when I was delighted to receive a letter from Sir Terence, who was sympathetic to my proposals.

Discussions began with Mr Lewis Carlish (Property Services Store Manager) who was extremely helpful from the start, and Mr Gerard Crosbie the store manager. A few concerns such as height of the tower and materials were quickly resolved and so the project began.

We decided on twenty boxes as this was a very new venture and we wanted to make it as unobtrusive as possible. It could easily have been designed to accommodate thirty or forty boxes by adding more layers. I agreed to design the tower, obtain estimates etc and present them to Mr Carlish. An important consideration was that the tower needed to be aesthetically pleasing to fit in with the store environment.

Here you can see 10 of the 20 entrances
I visited the store and took photographs of the various light columns and fittings, and the signs around the site. I then paid a visit to Stoneyford Engineering Ltd, a firm about five miles away and they constructed a prototype. The only problem we met was fitting the nesting boxes into the galvanised frame but we quickly overcame this by making each side in a separate section. We decided on an internal framework of twelve millimetre plywood and fixed to this PVC fascia. We choose this material for its durability and pleasing appearance and also it matched the facade of the Tesco store. but most importantly swifts have used nesting entrances in this material in numerous houses.

The roof is constructed of plywood covered in torched felt and painted with heat reflective paint; the underside is ventilated to enable air to pass through. The entrances are oval and are 30 mm high and 65 mm wide. We fixed a speaker in the roof to play swift attraction calls with the speaker cable threaded through the hollow column supporting the tower. The nesting boxes all have concave nest platforms and all are lined with feathers.

The finished tower was galvanised and bolted down to a cubic metre of concrete, Last Sunday (14th May) I observed two swifts flying close to it. It is hoped that swifts will eventually take up residence in all the twenty boxes.


  1. Hello. Interesting reading. I wonder if there exist any data of the succes of the tower in respect to swift using it ad residence in the following years?

  2. We have not heard whether Swifts have visited this tower