Roman circus saved

A SUCCESSFUL campaign to preserve a unique piece of British history in Colchester will help transform the town's tourism industry, it has been claimed.

Annie Davidson

A SUCCESSFUL campaign to preserve a unique piece of British history in Colchester will help transform the town's tourism industry, it has been claimed.

A major fundraising project has been running in the town to raise �200,000 to buy a Victorian military building on Colchester Garrison which has part of a Roman Circus under its gardens.

The starting gates of a chariot race track will eventually be put on display to the public alongside a heritage centre at the site off Abbey Field.


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The appeal was launched in January to raise �200,000 of the �750,000 needed to buy the old sergeants' mess and the total was met by the deadline on Sunday.

The appeal which was spearheaded by Destination Colchester and Colchester Archaeological Trust has been supported by celebrities including Time Team presenter Tony Robinson and former Labour MP Tony Benn.

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Karen Turnbull, enterprise and tourism manager for Colchester Borough Council, said: “This is great news for Colchester.

“The Roman Circus will compliment Colchester's existing collection of attractions and obviously will be of particular interest to historians.

“Combined with other contemporary developments like the cultural quarter and regeneration of St Boltolph's will help to transform the image and perception of Colchester for visitors of the future.

Michelle Reynolds, chairman of Colchester Retail Business Association, said: “I think they have done marvellously to get the money and hopefully when it is all renovated and up and running that will bring people in.

“Another attraction will be great. There is lots and lots of history to see and hopefully people will making a stay of it when they come here.”

Wendy Bailey, chairman of Destination Colchester, said: “We are overwhelmed with the fantastic response from people not just from Colchester but way beyond.

“People world-wide care about our Roman Heritage and have done so much to contribute to the success of our fundraising.

“People are really owning this campaign and most of the money has been raised by public donation, not big corporate funding.”

She said money had come in from school fundraisers and a couple foregoing presents for their 60th wedding anniversary and asking for campaign donations instead.

The remaining money to take the total to �750,000 will come from a variety of sources including grants and a mortgage.

www.romancircus.org

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