Restoring historic Essex tower

A DILAPIDATED ancient monument originally designed to fend off the threat of Napoleonic armies could be restored to bring life to a neglected area of north Essex.

By Roddy Ashworth

A DILAPIDATED ancient monument originally designed to fend off the threat of Napoleonic armies could be restored to bring life to a neglected area of north Essex.

Martello Tower 'C', in the village of Jaywick, near Clacton, was recently declared an "at risk" building by national conservation organisation English Heritage.

But now Essex County Council hopes that with grant money from various bodies – including the European Union – the building can have new life breathed into it.


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The council's plans would see the deteriorated structure, found on St Osyth Beach, near the end of Broadlands, fully restored and transformed into a heritage building, arts centre and observation post.

Around £150,000 is needed simply to bring the tower off the endangered list, but giving it a new use is expected to cost many thousands of pounds more.

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Essex County Council cabinet member Tracey Chapman, responsible for environment, culture and heritage, said: "This Martello tower is unfortunately falling into disrepair, and we are trying to get the money to fix it."

She added the council was trying to work with other countries so it could become part of the European Union sponsored 'Holding the Fort' project, which covers Napoleonic defences in the south North Sea.

It would also try to secure funding as part of the 'Coast Arts' initiative, displaying works of contemporary art, as well as hosting a National Coastwatch Institution watch-tower.

"We still have to receive scheduled monument consent and planning consent, without which we cannot get the money. It will be wonderful for Jaywick – it's a way of regenerating the whole area, and putting it on the map for tourism.

"There will be a wonderful art project in there, and it should really raise Jaywick's profile."

On English Heritage's "at risk" register, the tower is described as being in poor condition with an asphalt roof and saturated structure. The external render needs replacing and the timber floor inside is largely rotten.

A spokesman for Tendring District Council confirmed an application for alterations to the building had been received from the county authority.

"The application will be considered and consultation carried out," he added.

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