Lighthouse museum bid revealed
AMBITIOUS plans to create a major tourist attraction using an Essex town's historic lighthouses have been unveiled.Tony O'Neil, custodian of the High Lighthouse in Harwich, has now been awarded a 21-year lease to take over running the Inner and Outer Lighthouses in Lower Marine Parade in the town.
AMBITIOUS plans to create a major tourist attraction using an Essex town's historic lighthouses have been unveiled.
Tony O'Neil, custodian of the High Lighthouse in Harwich, has now been awarded a 21-year lease to take over running the Inner and Outer Lighthouses in Lower Marine Parade in the town.
Mr O'Neil, whose projects in the town are voluntary, plans to promote the coastal town's lighthouse attributes far and wide.
He wants to turn the Inner Lighthouse into a lighthouse museum and install a series of cameras within the Outer Lighthouse to offer the public previously unseen views of the Outer Lighthouse.
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And he hopes the lease will pave the way to his dream of turning Harwich into a “lighthouse town” that would draw in fellow enthusiasts from northern Europe and beyond.
His bid for the lease has been backed by Mick Page, Tendring District Council's regeneration portfolio holder, and also the High Sheriff of Harwich, William Bleakley, who share Mr O'Neil's dream of turning Harwich into a major tourist destination.
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Mr O'Neil said: “I think it is a really good idea and with four lighthouses in Harwich we can promote Harwich as a lighthouse town.
“To have four historic lighthouses that are open to the public and a historic light vessel, which was the last one ever to have people stationed there, presents a unique opportunity to the town.
“This is something I've been working so hard on for such a long time. News that the lease has been approved is really encouraging. Displaying the wonderful historic maritime features that we have in this town is really important because people visiting just don't know it's all here.”
“I think the idea and location are right for a lighthouse museum and it will be a great civic attribute for Tendring as a whole.”
Although the financial arrangements are yet to be finalised, the lease would be for 21 years and guarantee the preservation of the two lighthouses under the conditions of the lease.
Mr Page has approved the leasing out of the two lighthouses and believes the creation of a lighthouse museum could be an attraction to visitors.
He said: “I think it would be a tourist attraction because whenever you've got a great facility such as this can draw people in.
“This would simply be part of the wider regeneration programme we have under way in the area. In terms of tourism, this year has seen the first cruise liner pull into Harwich with the town itself being an attraction and a place to visit.
“The lighthouses are ideally placed because they are close to our Blue Flag beach.”
Mr Bleakley said: “It is a good thing if we can see these lighthouses used and keep them up-to-date.”