Ride-on railway, Christmas carol services and wedding ceremonies among plans for Wisbech Castle after transformation by volunteers
PUBLISHED: 18:10 02 November 2018
Hosting wedding ceremonies, Christmas carol services and soup kitchens, storytelling sessions and building a miniature ride-on railway for children are just some of the exciting ideas set to make Wisbech Castle a vital part of the town once again.
After being taken on by Wisbech Town Council in a state of disrepair - “rack and ruin” according to Wisbech town councillor Steve Tierney, who leads the Wisbech Castle Project - a team of volunteers and councillors set about transforming the building in May.
With 30 volunteers, tours of the castle are free - and there are plans to open its vaults, with 18 corridors stretching to the Thomas Clarkson memorial, for themed experiences.
For children there are plans for an ‘enchanting fairy den’ that’ll feature storytelling sessions, while the ‘tropical garden’ offers something for parents and grandparents.
Cllr Tierney said: “The estimated cost was £350,000 but so far we have completed 90 per cent of the essential repair work and spent just £25,000.
“The Castle Project was made possible by the council tax in Wisbech increasing by 35 per cent - which is the equivalent of £1 per person. So we’ve made entry free to give something back to the community, and because we’re trying to make sure that everyone can afford it. We want local taxpayers to see the benefit from it.”
In June Wisbech Castle hosted a Victorian-themed tea party during the rose fair and, earlier this week, a series of sell-out Halloween events - where 24 local people volunteered to become scary characters with the help of Nine Lives Theatre Company.
Described as a as “a hidden gem at the heart of the town for many years” by Steve Barclay MP, the castle was transferred to Wisbech Town Council earlier this year on a long lease with a peppercorn rent along with a £150,000 loan from the county council.
Repayable over 25 years, the money was awarded so that repairs and improvements could be carried out.
Despite being criticised by Geoffrey Wilkinson, the former county council castle manager, who said “they don’t have the imagination, the money or the expertise”, the work has come in well under budget and hundreds of people have come through the castle’s doors.
Wisbech Castle is open Thursday to Saturday and the cafe is open Thursday to Sunday.
To keep up to date with events and tours visit www.facebook.com/thewisbechcastle/?locale2=en_GB