Work has begun to light up three historic monuments in Forres.
Interior wiring works at the Tolbooth and Nelson’s Tower is already underway and external groundworks have also begun to enable the Tolbooth and the Mercat Cross to be illuminated.
There is a small area between the two buildings which is cordoned off to allow for the external cabling works to be carried out.
Last year, the Forres Heritage Trust (FHT) was given planning permission to go ahead with the project which will also see Nelson’s Tower being lit too.
The project is being led by trustees Bill Budge and Bob James who as well as working with consultants and architects have helped the Forres Heritage Trust secure £110k of funding to help the project come to fruition.
Bob James said: “This project has been a long time in the planning and it is great to see it is progressing. These buildings are part of Forres’ rich history and lighting them up will make them a beacon and encourage interest and tourism for the buildings themselves but also create a feature for the people of Forres to enjoy. The groundworks between the Tolbooth and the Mercat Cross will cause minimal disruption and the contractor will be accompanied by an archaeologist due to the historical significance of the two buildings.
He added: “As for the finished schemes, the tower and Tolbooth will each use less than a quarter of the power of a domestic kettle, the Mercat cross about a tenth. The planned running time for the lights will be less than 30 per cent of the total annual hours of darkness in Forres with the majority of the lights going out at 10pm.There will be no light spill as these lights are precision made-to-order for each location.”
Monies for the project were secured from Forres Features Limited, Berry Burn Wind Farm, The Budge Foundation, the Ena and Gordon Baxter Foundation and the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund.
Bill Budge said: “Over three years ago, FHT embarked on a project to illuminate the Tolbooth, Mercat Cross and Nelson’s Tower. The Trust knew at the outset that the huge historic significance of the buildings in question required the assistance of professionals who knew not just how to ‘light up’ buildings so their essential features could be fully appreciated, but also that the work could be achieved sure in the knowledge that minimal disturbance would occur to these listed buildings.
“In addition, FHT were very conscious of environmental factors ensuring that the cost of running the lights had to be minimal, fully friendly to nature as well as ensuring all work respected and safeguarded the historic significance of the building to be illuminated, both internally and externally. It was also realised that the cost of achieving a high quality end product would be expensive and extensive fund raising would have to occur.”
He added: “We are very grateful to the funders who have looked at the applications, considered them and have taken the decision to grant money to us so generously. We have been working closely with lighting design specialists RYBKA and award winning LDN Architects who have a recognised track history of being involved in projects which have strong heritage connections and what they are producing for the buildings and therefore our fantastic town is truly something special.”
He added: “Lighting up these buildings was part of a public consultation which was part of Moray Council’s strategic plan and it’s great that the Forres Heritage Trust has been able to make this happen. The Trust considers that the historical importance of Nelson’s Tower, the Tolbooth and Mercat Cross, fully justifies its decision to embark on a course to illuminate each building. The lighting will be controlled by sophisticated technology allowing buildings to be illuminated in appropriate colour schemes to reflect such events as Armistice Day, St Andrews Day, Macmillan Cancer, Christmas Day, to name but a few. The Trust feels that illuminating Nelson’s Tower, the Tolbooth and the Mercat Cross throughout the year will develop them into a beacon, advertising their presence to all and will encourage increased visitor numbers.”