Century-old Lookout Tower opens after £100k restoration works

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 May 2019

The view from the top of the Lookout Tower after its £100,000 restoration. Picture: Longleat Enterprises

The view from the top of the Lookout Tower after its £100,000 restoration. Picture: Longleat Enterprises

Longleat Enterprises

A century-old lookout tower which, at its peak, has stunning views across Cheddar Gorge will officially reopen after a £100,000 restoration.

The Lookout Tower after its £100,000 restoration. Picture: Longleat EnterprisesThe Lookout Tower after its £100,000 restoration. Picture: Longleat Enterprises

The 14m-tall Lookout Tower at the top of Jacob's Ladder was closed to the public in September 2017 for vital repair work to be completed by Longleat, who owns and operates Cheddar Gorge & Caves.

The tower will be reopened by Viscount Weymouth, Ceawlin Thynn, who is also the chief executive of Longleat Enterprises at around 11am tomorrow (Friday) following the two-year-long works.

People will be able to climb the steps of the tower and take in the views across the Mendip plateau all the way to Glastonbury Tor and Exmoor.

Operations manager at Cheddar Gorge & Caves, Leon Troake, said: "The Lookout Tower is an iconic part of Cheddar and has a rich and fascinating history dating back more than 100 years.

"I am delighted we are able to re-open it to visitors following this complicated and logistically daunting restoration programme as it provides a fantastic opportunity to see the gorge in its wider geographical context.

"It's also a fitting reward for having managed to make your way up all 274 steps of Jacob's Ladder."

In addition to replacing sections of steel, the restoration team also shot-blasted the tower, replaced thousands of bolts and repainted the entire structure.

As part of the restoration work, a team of builders had to ferry more than three tonnes of replacement steelwork as well as 35 tonnes of scaffolding up to the cliff top.

The work is part of Longleat's ongoing commitment to invest and improve the visitor experience both above and below the ground at the tourist attraction.

The tower, which was originally made of wood, first opened to visitors in the summer of 1908 when it was known as the White Tower.

It was part of a series of attractions leased by eccentric entrepreneur Rowland Pavey.

In 1920, it was sold by the fifth Marquess of Bath to Rowland's wife, Lottie Pavey, for £1,100.

The wooden tower remained in use until 1936 when it was replaced by a wrought iron tower.

It was eventually purchased back by the Longleat Estate, along with Jacob's Ladder and Pavey's Cave following the death of Lottie in 1967.

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