The Wish Tower is another step closer to re-opening after a team of volunteers cleared rubbish from the seafront landmark.
The tower’s Friends group spent two weekends carefully dismantling what was left of the previous puppet museum and clearing debris inside the building which has been closed for 13 years.
Liz Crew from the Wish Tower Friends said, “There were days of terrific efforts by our lovely volunteers. A combination of hard graft, creative thinking and general mucking in has seen our skip filled and partitions dismantled.
“We’ll need another working party in a couple of weeks to get another skip filled and then we’ll be just about ready for visitors.”
The Wish Tower Friends group has agreed a two-year lease with Eastbourne Borough Council and it is hoped the Martello Tower will open its doors to the public very soon.
The tower, built around 1805 as one of a string of 74 along the costs of Sussex and Kent, will be hosting free torchlight tours for the public.
In the meantime the Friends has organised an event on Saturday March 1 at the nearby Redoubt Fortress and will host an evening of MR James ghost stories.
Liz said, “We see this event as a great way of raising a little money for the work we need to do in the Tower, as well as forging links between the Tower and the Redoubt which are, after all, related pieces of local heritage.”
Tickets are priced at £12 and may be bought on line via the Wish Tower’s website at www.wishtower.org.uk
Any money raised will be reinvested in the tower and getting the right experts involved to plan for its future. The group’s long-term aim is restore the Wish Tower back to its former glory so it can be enjoyed as a relatively unspoilt Martello Tower.
Martello Towers are small defensive forts that were built across the British Empire during the 19th century, from the time of the French Revolutionary Wars onwards. They stand up to 40 feet high, with two floors, walls about eight feet thick and typically had a garrison of one officer and 15–25 men.
During the first half of the 19th century, the British government embarked on a large-scale programme of building the towers to guard the coastlines.