A couple of weeks ago, we got some fantastic news: we were successful in a bid for some grant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The grant is from a funding programme aimed at getting more people involved in, and loving, their heritage. It will help us finance a very special project: a community-led conservation management plan.

Conservation management plans (CMPs) are typically completed for important heritage buildings and land before any restoration work can be started and the funds that the Wish Tower Friends have been collecting through donations and events were to allow us to complete a CMP for the Wish Tower. The additional funds that HLF will add to the project will help us complete the project well before we anticipated, so we’re very excited.

So – what form will this project take?

It has already started inasmuch as from day one we’ve been researching information about the Tower and its place in history and that of some of the people involved with it. We’ve also found out an awful lot about other Martello Towers and the three Redoubt fortresses. All of this information – and more research we plan to do will feed into the CMP to help explain why the Wish Tower is important and deserves to be restored.

Next up is a really important stage – two “Discovery Days”. These will be held in the space on the ground floor of Towner on 10th & 11th January 2015. The gallery will be open for everyone to come in and see what we’ve found out already; look at some of the books, illustrations and pictures we’ve found; learn about the people that lived there and see where in Eastbourne were other Martello Towers.
We’ll also be inviting anyone to bring along stories, books, pictures and objects about the Wish Tower to help us fill in the gaps in what we’ve learned.
The final purpose for these days is to learn what other people like and value about the tower and how they’d like to see its future evolve.

Once the Discovery Days are complete we’ll be planning some more formal study days which people might like to attend – these will include surveying the tower under the guidance of some heritage building specialists and doing some research at local records offices. More details of this will be published early next year.

All the information we’ve compiled will be turned into what we hope is an interesting report that people will enjoy reading and will include information about the cost of renovation and any other potential work. Once we have this information we’ll be looking to raise the funds to start some renovation.

The final part of our project will be to stage some exhibitions around Eastbourne illustrating the history and the possible future for our lovely Tower.

So – you can see there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved and make sure your hopes for the Tower are heard.

Put 10th and 11th January in your diaries and come and join us!

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