Radical renovation project for Watton clock tower is underway

Watton Town focus.; Watton clock tower and town sign.

Watton Town focus.; Watton clock tower and town sign. - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2010

A historic clock tower could finally be set for renovation after a town council agreed to start seeking offers to complete the project.

The clock tower in Watton High Street has been broken for months and the discovery of further structural issues last year added to the looming repair bill.

After a study by NPS Group identified the necessary repairs to the 17th century building, Watton Town Council agreed at a meeting last night to accept the property management company as project managers and put the work out to tender.

Mayor of Watton Beryl Bunning said: 'We are pleased that we are now starting the process of tendering and going ahead with the project.

'We would like to thank the public for their understanding of the complexity of this project. We want to make sure that public money will be spent wisely.'

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Fellow councillor Dan Fishlock said: 'This has been going on for an awfully long time and it is about time we got it repaired.'

The quinquennial report by NPS said the Grade II listed clock tower was 'not in good repair', with work needed on the copper roof over its cupola, its gutters and floors. There was also a suggestion that its timbers should be treated.

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Report author Alan Wright said: 'The building does not present itself well, especially internally. It would be good to raise the quality of this valuable heritage asset which sits in the middle of Watton.'

Previous reports suggested that replacing the lead on the roof, repairs to the stone parapets and chimney, and an overhaul of the timbers in the cupola should be considered priorities.

A feasibility estimate for the works calculated by NPS came to £11,040.

Jane Scarrott, town council clerk, said there was money available in the council's budget to employ a project manager. 'We should be able to cover what we need with the estimates we have been given,' she said.

The clock tower was constructed in around 1679 by Christopher Hey, with alterations made in the 19th century.

What do you think of the renovation plans? Email bethany.whymark@archant.co.uk.

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