Martello could be tourist attraction

A MARTELLO tower with a 200-year-old history and a bunker which played an important part in the defence of Felixstowe could become new tourist attractions.

A MARTELLO tower with a 200-year-old history and a bunker which played an important part in the defence of Felixstowe could become new tourist attractions.

Suffolk Coastal District Council is considering the future of the Martello tower at the south seafront of the resort. This was built between 1808-11 and was one of several bomb-proof gun towers erected along the east coast when the country was at war with France.

The top of the 500,000-brick tower is currently used by Coast Watch, a voluntary organisation providing a look-out service for activity on the beach, promenade, foreshore and sea.

Close to the tower is a Cold War bunker. English Heritage is recommending that should be retained and its history interpreted because it is of ''national importance'' and represented the final phase in Felixstowe's defensive history.


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The district council bought the martello tower in 1997 – it is a scheduled ancient monument and a listed building – and English Heritage has told the council it expects the tower to be renovated and opened to the public as part of the redevelopment of the south seafront.

But the council would have to spend a substantial sum of money on establishing the condition of the tower, its history and putting aside money for the tower's future use.

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The council's cabinet is being asked to approve the expenditure of £25,000 on expert technical advice and a further £35,000 as support funding to encourage funding from a European scheme. This is called Holding the Fort and the council has already put in a provisional bid to the scheme.

The council's Local Plan policy for the tower's site states that the tower should be retained and it could be used as a museum or a restaurant. But the building's construction could hinder redevelopment as it only has a single entry point and there will be health and safety issues.

The redevelopment proposals for the south seafront include the construction of nearly 200 homes and leisure facilities. Opening up the tower could increase the number of tourists.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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