Seafront landmark restored after £380,000 restoration project
THE late-winter blues will lift on Herne Bay seafront this weekend as the town celebrates the extensive refurbishment of its clock tower. Some £380,000 has been spent on bringing this iconic building back to its former glory and on Saturday the results of a tremendous effort by so many in the Herne Bay community will spark a party atmosphere. There are still some final, minor, improvements to be made, but essentially the project to make the clock tower something of which Herne Bay can be proud again is nearing the finishing line. And from 6pm to 7pm on Saturday there will be speeches, fireworks and a lights show. The work was made possible by a £270,000 Heritage Lottery grant and a further £110,000 from Canterbury City Council.
Peter Lee, Canterbury City Council’s executive member for Herne Bay regeneration, said:
“We’re delighted with the results of the restoration work and that there is such an exciting future for the clock tower, which is the oldest purpose-built, freestanding clock tower in the world. Not only is the building looking fantastic, but the new interpretation centre just along Central Parade is a great addition, too, meaning people can learn about its history and enjoy looking at the fantastic views from the cameras at the top. We hope that people will love the LED lights, which will highlight the magnificent detail at the various levels and enhance the seafront’s attraction for evening visitors to its shops and restaurants. I would like to pay tribute to the Friends Of Herne Bay Clock Tower group, who have put in a lot of hard work alongside the council to get this project to where it is today and, of course, to the local community who have supported this project from the start. The Friends group is now planning a range of activities over the next couple of years that we know people will really enjoy. It will be great to see the clock tower playing a central role in Herne Bay life.”
The clock tower was built in 1837 and represents the architecture of the earliest Victorian period, all the more relevant given that this year’s Herne Bay Festival is to have a Victorian theme. Although the BayPromoTeam was not involved in the clock tower project, Gerald McCarthy from the team is keen to stress the structure’s importance to the resort.
“It was only when it was covered in scaffolding that you realised how much you missed it, having been brought up with it,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the hi-tech lighting, which was part of the refurbishment, and the fireworks. The clock tower plaza is a big event space, so it’s an important step for the town. When you refurbish an old building, it’s never going to look new, but that’s not the point — it’s about making it simply look good again.”
• To learn more about the clock tower and the refurbishment project, you can visit www.clocktowerfriends.org
Herne Bay Times, February 11th 2015