A century-old lookout tower with stunning views over Cheddar Gorge and the surrounding countryside is to officially re-open at 11am* on Friday, 10th May following a two-year restoration project.
The 14-metre-tall Lookout Tower is to officially be re-opened by Viscount Weymouth, Ceawlin Thynn, chief executive of Longleat Enterprises which owns Cheddar Gorge & Caves.
Views from the top of the tower extend across the Mendip plateau to Glastonbury Tor and as far as Exmoor.
“The Lookout Tower is an iconic part of Cheddar and has a rich and fascinating history dating back more than 100 years,” said Leon Troake, operations manager at Cheddar Gorge & Caves.
“I’m 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,” he added.
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 tower restoration is part of an ongoing commitment to invest and improve the visitor experience both above and below ground at Cheddar Gorge & Caves.
The tower, which was originally constructed from wood, first opened to visitors in the summer of 1908 when it was known as the White Tower and was part of a series of attractions leased by eccentric entrepreneur Rowland Pavey.
In 1920 they were sold by the 5th Marquess of Bath to Rowland’s wife, Lottie Isabella 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 the 274-step Jacob’s Ladder and Pavey’s Cave following the death of Lottie Pavey in 1967.
Cheddar Gorge is considered one of the world’s most impressive landscapes and natural wonders with views from 900ft above sea-level as well as caves which are over 500,000 years old.