The most prominent building in Flintshire and Denbighshire is about to receive major refurbishment. Flintshire and Denbighshire County Councils are working together to develop a programme of work to reconsolidate parts of the Jubilee Tower – at the summit of Moel Famau. Parts of the tower are beginning to deteriorate and access onto the tower has become increasingly difficult.
The Jubilee Tower was built in 1810 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of King George III. The original 120ft tower, set on a broad base, blew down in the 1860s and the remains have slowly deteriorated ever since. Major repairs were carried out in 1969, but since then it has received very little attention – despite being one of the most visited spots in both counties – getting over 200,000 visitors every year.
In 2009 Flintshire and Denbighshire Councils with support from the Clwydian Range AONB commissioned specialist conservation architects TACP to examine the condition of the building and to make recommendations for its repair and reconsolidation. Now, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Heather and Hillforts Project, work can begin to take place.
It is hoped that one of the original corner bastions can be revealed – probably for the first time in over 100 years. The original base of the tower has been covered up as parts of the tower collapsed over the years. A preliminary excavation last year showed that at least one of these bastions is still intact and work will start in the next few weeks to reveal it.
The tower, designed by Thomas Harrison, is a listed building so a careful proramme of reconsolidation has been developed.
Fiona Gale, Denbighshire’s Archaeologist said:
"A careful study of the tower has identified key areas in need of repair and reconsolidation. Specialist stone masons will use traditional techniques to carefully repair the stone work. We also hope to reveal a corner section of the tower that has lain buried for over 100years which will give a much better sense of it original scale.”
Grosvenor Stone – specialist stone masons have been contracted to carry out the work.
The Jubilee Tower is one of the area's most prominent landmarks and a popular walk for tens of thousands of people. Over the next few weeks the tower will be shrouded in scaffolding as the repairs get underway – but there will be opportunities to look closely at what is happening with a series of guided visits to the site. The work is anticipated to last around 12 weeks.
David Shiel – Senior Countryside Officer for the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB said:
"This is the first time in over 40 years that any significant work has taken place at the Tower. At over 1800ft – the highest point in the Clwydian Range – working at the top of Moel Famau will be challenging – particularly at this time of year. We hope that the original stone can be salvaged from the buried rubble of the original tower to make things a little easier.”
Cllr Carolyn Thomas, chair of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB and Vice Chair of Flintshire County Council, said:
"It is excellent news that we are able to carry out this important work. The Jubilee Tower is such an iconic landmark for the Clwydian Range and many of the communities of both Flintshire and Denbighshire - but we have perhaps taken it for granted over the years – despite it receiving over 200,000 visitors every year very little has been invested over the last 40 years in safeguarding the fabric of the building. "
The work is anticipated to last until the end of May.
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The first Landscape Partnership Scheme to be established in Wales has arisen from heather and hillforts; two special features of Clwydian Range and Llantysilio Mountain. Three years of hard work by organisations and the local community, led by Denbighshire County Council, has secured a £2 million pound grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to protect and to increase the enjoyment and understanding of the natural and historic upland environment of north-east Wales.