Historic tower complex undergoes transformation to tell a new story of Chester's history

Reporter:

Steve Creswell

Chester’s medieval Water Tower complex will be transformed into a new heritage attraction under new plans revealed today.

City-based social enterprise Big Heritage plans to refurbish the Grade I-listed Water Tower and Bonewaldesthorne’s Tower to tell the story of the city’s Walls, and the people who built, maintained and lived within them over 2,000 years.

The exhibition, called 'Within These Walls', will replace the current Sick to Death visitor attraction, which was famously home to the Chester Plague Doctor.

Big Heritage, which holds the lease for the tower complex, is funding the revamp. It is hoped that the work will be completed by spring this year.

Dean Paton, the organisation's founder, said: “The walls of Chester are one the city’s most unique selling points, but there is no dedicated place that tells their fascinating story. This new attraction will change that.

“It will explore the Roman origins of the walls, their medieval expansion and the Victorian interventions, before bringing their story back to today, focusing on what is happening on the walls both now and in the future.”

Once open, the complex of medieval towers will also host a regularly updated 'People’s Gallery' – where people living and working in different parts of Chester will be given the opportunity to help co-curate and display information, art and artefacts that are relevant and interesting to city residents and visitors.

The dedicated Within These Walls exhibition will mean Sick to Death will be transformed into a roadshow attraction that will be taken right across the UK.

The Within These Walls attraction will also link with a new project Big Heritage are creating at St Michael’s Church in Bridge Street. More details will be announced on this in due course.

The tower complex will be closed during the renovation, which starts this week.

* Sick to Death caused a huge stir in the city in the run-up to its opening in August 2016, thanks largely to a brilliant PR campaign involving a mysterious Plague Doctor figure who was spotted wandering the city streets at night.

Thousands of people began talking about the masked, hooded figure on social media and news outlets across the country picked up the story.

Some believed it was a supernatural entity heralding the end of days, while others rightly suspected it was a cunningly crafted publicity stunt.

The marketing campaign secured a national award for Big Heritage and PR agency No Brainer.

Email:

steve.creswell@nwn.co.uk

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