Castle wins lottery grant

PLANS to transform one of Essex's biggest tourist attractions have been given a major boost with a grant of more than �250,000 of lottery money.

Roddy Ashworth

PLANS to transform one of Essex's biggest tourist attractions have been given a major boost with a grant of more than �250,000 of lottery money.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has given the green light for work on a �2.9 million project to refurbish parts of Colchester Castle and replace many of its interior displays, it has been announced.

Stage one development funding of �265,300 has been awarded to help move the ambitious plans forward.


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The grant means that Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service can now progress to the second stage of the lottery funding application process.

The service now has up to two years to use the money to complete more detailed plans and then apply for the rest of the �1.6million of lottery support that they are seeking for the transformation scheme.

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Colchester Castle is one of Britain's finest surviving Norman buildings and shares a ground plan, and possibly the same architect, with the White Tower in London.

The Castle Museum, one of the town's most popular attractions for both locals and visitors, tells the story of the early development of Colchester, and is particularly important for its collections of Iron Age and early Roman finds from the area.

However, both the building itself and the displays are in urgent need of refurbishment.

The project's main aims include:

* to improve the interpretation of Colchester Castle as a building itself, which has been highlighted as a weakness by visitors

* to present the history of Colchester in a series of exciting new displays that increase visitors' understanding and enjoyment

* to incorporate the latest archaeological discoveries - such as the Roman Circus and re-appraised town walls - into the displays.

* to make repairs to the roof and upgrade the heating system

The project's aim overall is to improve the quality of the visitor experience in line with people's expectations of a major visitor attraction.

Peter Berridge, museums manager for the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service, said: “We are so delighted with the news - this first round pass enables us to move forward into phase two of our plans to develop the castle, its collections, stories and visitors' facilities with the ultimate aim to increase and build on the high-quality experience we offer and further improving and providing a top-quality experience for our audiences.”

Paul Smith, Colchester Borough Council cabinet member for culture and diversity, said: “This is exciting news and a testament to Colchester Borough Council and its commitment to investing in its heritage.

“This project is about true community involvement that will shape the way we present and enable access to our past for all.

“This will also further enhance the quality of our heritage attraction in the town and what Colchester has to offer as a tourist destination.”

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