Not the first trial in folly’s his­tory

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

Re­cent wor­ries are by no means the first dif­fi­culty in the tower’s tur­bu­lent past since be­ing badly dam­aged in The Great Storm of 1987.

At first it was left to de­te­ri­o­rate, later hav­ing its lan­tern re­moved in 1996. A decade af­ter­wards, Ton­bridge and Malling Bor­ough Coun­cil an­nounced it would is­sue a com­pul­sory pur- chase or­der to save it, and by 2011 had sold it to his­toric hol­i­day home let­ting agent The Vi­vat Trust for £1.

Fol­low­ing a £4.1 mil­lion restora­tion, in­clud­ing con­sid­er­able con­tri­bu­tions from The Her­itage Lot­tery Fund and His­toric Eng­land, as well as thou­sands do­nated pri­vately, SHTAG ran a vis­i­tor’s cen­tre at the site.

The Vi­vat Trust leased the prop­erty to hol­i­day­mak­ers be­fore go­ing into liquidation in 2015. Restora­tion on the 130ft Grade-I listed cas­tle, which was used as a watch­tower by the Home Guard and Royal Ob­server Corps dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, was com­pleted in Fe­bru­ary 2013. It was short­listed for the Kent De­sign Awards the fol­low­ing year.

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