Lottery cash enables Tower to get a facelift

MARIANNE MACDONALD

Arts Reporter

The scruffy and unwelcoming surroundings of the Tower of London - the second most popular tourist attraction in Britain - are to be given a facelift with heritage lottery money.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded pounds 500,000 to a consortium led by the Historic Royal Palaces Agency - which runs the Tower for the Government - and including Tower Hamlets Borough Council and the Port of London Authority.

The money will fund a study to look at ways of improving the Tower's environs. Options include enhancing the wharf-side view of the Thames by removing walls and fences, removing skips outside the Tower's East Gate, closing the wharf to traffic, and improving the subway from Tower Hill Tube station.

The scheme is seen by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the lottery distribution body which has awarded the money, as a way to help improve the stretch of the Thames which runs between London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

The award disclosed today was one of 33 grants totalling pounds 7.7m. The largest grant of pounds 2.3m went to the University of Lancaster to build a library for its collection of works by John Ruskin, the 19th century social reformer and critic.

The money will go toward the pounds 3m cost of building the Ruskin Library, designed by Richard MacCormac, to provide a new home for the archive and make it easily accessible to the public.

The second largest grant of up to pounds 1.4m went to Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, Greater Manchester, to restore Tameside central library. The Grade II listed building, which has a mosaic floor, has long been on the "at risk" register.

Almost all the other grants in this fourth round of awards provide money to repair and restore libraries, churches and museums throughout the UK.

One exception was Clevedon Pier in Avon, which won pounds 475,000 toward its restoration cost. The Grade II* listed pier, built by public subscription in 1869, collapsed 25 years ago.

The others were Stodmarsh Site of Special Scientific Interest at Sturry, near Canterbury, for pounds 130,000 to help purchase 79 hectares of grassland containing a range of wetland habitats, and Lakenheath Fen Reserve, Suffolk, which was awarded pounds 675,000 to buy 241 hectares of land to breed birds at risk of extinction. The Anti-Slavery Archive in Brixton, south London, got pounds 88,000 to help conserve its collection and improve its library, which is open to the public during the week.

Other awards went to Hogarth's House in Chiswick, west London, to conserve its collection of Hogarth prints. Haverfordwest town museum in west Wales, also won pounds 45,000 for repairs and Stromness museum in Orkney was awarded pounds 12,000 for the same purpose.

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