A PROJECT to develop the clock tower in one of the town’s most historic buildings into a new tourist attraction is gathering pace.
Listed building consent, planning permission and a building warrant to install safety barriers on a walkway around the clocktower at the Tolbooth have been secured and the Forres Heritage Trust who own the building has also received some further funding.
It is hoped the works will be complete by September with a view to opening the attraction to the public shortly after.
The latest successful funding of £11,301.60 was secured from The Beatrice Partnership Fund and will be used to restore the Tolbooth clock and install the safety barriers.
Already, new access stairs which lead up to the walkway have been put in place and as George Alexander, chairman of the Trust, explained as the project is nearing completion: “We are delighted that we are now in the last phase of this project to open the walkway around the clocktower which will give visitors a unique insight into the building but also wonderful views over our historic town.
“We are extremely grateful to have received this latest funding from The Beatrice Partnership Fund and delighted that Moray Council has now issued the building warrant which will allow us to get the safety barriers installed. Once this is done, we will be in a position to open.”
Previously, the Forres Heritage Trust which also looks after Nelson’s Tower, received £20,000 in funding from the Berry Burn Community Fund towards the project. That money has been used to make repairs around the walkway and to carry out extensive pointing of the stonework around the clock tower.
George added: “Clearly the Tolbooth is a historic building so we have to ensure that any works we carry out are done so in keeping with the building.”
The old wooden stairs which were removed by volunteers revealed signatures which it is believed are of workmen who worked on the tower since the early 20th century.
George Alexander, explained: “We were able to remove the stairs quite easily and in doing so we revealed the signatures. There is always some little gem that you come across when carrying out renovations in a building with such historical significance.”
The project has already received £9375 from the Town Centre Regeneration Funding which was allocated for ‘alterations to the outside gallery around the clock tower.’