An ambitious project to breathe new life into an historic building is entering its next phase.
A scheme to reopen the ruined 15th century pele tower at Cresswell was awarded initial support for a £93,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) last autumn – with Northumberland County Council adding an extra £6,000.
Once restored with a new roof and refurbished interior, the fortified landmark has been identified as a key tourist attraction and new community facility.
Project organisers plan to install electricity in order to host exhibitions among a range of events.
The development phase of the project is now underway which will involve a more detailed structural survey, producing a range of business and management plans, commissioning an ecology survey and developing a new website.
In addition, the community archaeology project which includes excavation in the large field to the east of the tower, is ready to start.
The work will take place over the coming weeks, culminating in an open day at the tower on February 19.
Assistant project manager and local resident Barry Mead said: “We’ve had a fantastic response to calls for volunteers to help with the archaeology project and it really shows how much interest there is in this important Northumberland landmark.
“All the volunteer places are now filled and we’re looking forward to seeing what we discover during this phase of the scheme.”
County councillor Scott Dickinson, ward member and business chair, has supported the project with £3,000 from his council capital allowance, matched by a further £3,000 of heritage funding.
He added: “It’s great news that we’re now entering the next phase of this exciting project. The tower has the potential to be a major draw for the increasing number of visitors to the county, and I’m delighted the local community is playing such a key role.
“This work is another example of the council working to boost economic growth in towns and villages across Northumberland.”
Once the development phase is complete and approved, the project team will apply for the full HLF grant with the final delivery phase scheduled to get underway in May 2018 and complete by summer 2019.