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Trust aims to reopen historic feature of Moray landmark to provide panoramic views

Forres Heritage Trust chairman George Alexander.
Forres Heritage Trust chairman George Alexander.

Heritage campaigners plan to reopen the clock tower to provide spectacular panoramic views from an historic Moray building.

The current Tolbooth has stood in the heart of Forres for nearly 200 years and has been home to celebrations of all kinds as well as being a police station and prison.

The local heritage trust took over the landmark in 2013 after it was declared surplus to requirements by Moray Council.

Now, members have confirmed their intention to reopen one of the building’s most prominent features.

Trust chairman George Alexander said: “It’s a little-known fact there is a narrow walkway around the clock and, until now, only a privileged few have ever gained access.

“It’s our aim to make access safely available to tourists and locals alike.

“The views are beautiful, but actually being inside the clock tower is an experience in itself and we plan to turn that whole part of the Tolbooth into a new visitor attraction.”

The trust has lodged plans with Moray Council for permission to remove the original wooden steps which lead to the walkway due to modern building rules.

Historic Environment Scotland will also need to give its approval for alterations inside the A-listed building on the site of former Tollbooths stretching back 800 years.

The project has already received £9,375 from the council’s allocation of Scottish Government town centre regeneration funding to help pay for the alterations.

The clock tower is the trust’s latest renovation to the Tolbooth, following a full re-paint and the installation of a multi-media system.

Talks have already been held with Forres-based AJ Engineering about designing and installing the new steps to the tower.

Mr Alexander said: “Once this phase is complete, which will include a huge amount of work from our volunteers who will be responsible for removing the old wooden stairs, the next stage in the process is to repair the lead lining which forms the floor of the walkway and replace the pointing which has been eroded from many of the joints in the stonework.

“Then work will begin on making the walkway safe for visitors to enjoy the fantastic views over the town, especially to both the east and west along the High Street.”

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