A new campaign is calling on residents and visitors to St Mary’s Lighthouse to ‘back the bid’ and help safeguard its future.
North Tyneside Council and its partners are bidding to secure £2.1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to carry out vital repairs to the iconic Grade II listed lighthouse and former keeper’s cottages.
Development funding of £164,300 was awarded by HLF thanks to National Lottery players in May 2016 to progress the proposals ahead of the final bid being submitted by August.
To mark the campaign launch, a special ‘back the bid’ event is being held at the lighthouse on Thursday, 1 Junewhere visitors can take a closer look at the latest plans and leave messages to show their support.
The designs and new computer-generated images showing how the building could look in future are available to view on the council’s website – www.northtyneside.gov.uk – and Facebook page, while residents can also get behind the campaign using #backthebid on social media.
North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “We are close to submitting our final bid for funding that will allow us to carry out vital repairs to the lighthouse and keeper’s cottage so that future generations can enjoy these fantastic facilities.
“We are absolutely committed to safeguarding the future of these iconic buildings, which also provide a really important educational resource.
“We want to be able to show the HLF that we have the full support of local people and visitors to the lighthouse and that’s why we have launched the ‘back the bid’ campaign.
“I would urge anyone interested in the future of this important landmark to come along to the event to take a look at the latest version of the designs as they evolve and back the bid to preserve the lighthouse for years to come.”
The ‘back the bid’ event will take place from 12pm until 4.30pm and free parking will be available in the lighthouse car park during this time.
Various activities for children will also be held and visitors will be able to climb the steps to the top of the lighthouse tower and take in the breathtaking views for free.
There will also be an opportunity to find out about volunteering opportunities during the capital works.
Partner organisations, including St Mary’s Seal Watch, the Association of Lighthouse Keepers, Northumbrian Wildlife Trust and the St Mary’s Island Wetland conservation group, have all been invited to attend the event.
The lighthouse restoration project is a major part of the council’s £36m Seafront Master Plan for Whitley Bay to breathe new life into the stretch of coastline between Cullercoats Bay and St Mary’s Island.
The proposals, which have been drawn up in partnership with appointed designers Beaumont Brown Architects, include restoring the lighthouse tower and former keeper’s cottages as well as rebuilding the original optic (light) to create a fascinating new feature for visitors to enjoy.
New extensions will be built to provide more educational and learning facilities as well as an area to host exhibitions and new retail space.
There will also be two new viewing areas, updated toilets and the visitor centre area will be modernised while the interpretation/display information will be renewed to enhance the visitor experience.
As part of the development, a full environmental assessment will be carried out in which the potential effect on wildlife will be a key consideration. All appropriate controls will also be in place and the proposals will be subject to consultation as part of the planning process
An activity plan featuring various educational and heritage themed events will also run alongside – and following the completion of – the capital works, including celebrations to mark the 120th anniversary of the lighthouse.