2017 has been truly a momentous year for the Red Tower CIC. Having completed the process of officially taking possession of the Tower via a 30 year lease from the CYC, we commenced the process of liaising with our architects and the City of York Council who had committed to overseeing the installation of utilities. Due process for selecting a construction company was carried out and a massive fundraising effort resulted in us securing the required funding needed to convert our dreams into reality.
The installation of utilities was likely to be a lengthy process, so we made a conscious decision to carry on with a program of events during 2017, always believing these could come to an end at a moments notice as development occurred.
Below is a detailed timeline of our activities throughout 2017 up to the point when we officially handed occupancy of the Tower to Croft Farm Construction, our selected upgrade contractors.
Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 January Resident’s Festival
The weather on the Saturday was dire, with persistent rain throughout the day, but the resilience of the Sealed Knot was exceptional, maintaining a presence from start to finish over the two days, and they were magnificent, putting on a good show of both uniforms and weaponry. The cannon was awesome. The visit of the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress was an added attraction, when they were met at the limo and escorted to the tower by the Sealed Knot guard of honour. It was encouraging to note how many of our visitors were really interested in the history of the tower and our future development plans. Visitor numbers were impressive with Saturday footfall being 309 and Sunday 242, giving a grand total of 551 over the two days.
6 March Creating the gap in the western wall
Work scheduled to start creating the gap in the western perimeter wall did not occur and was delayed.
24 March Spring arrives at the Tower
Photo Saria Cocola
6 April Rachael Maskell MP visit
York Central MP Rachael Maskell who has for some time taken a keen interest in the redevelopment of the Red Tower as a community resource, visited us to see for herself what the tower is and hear of our plans for its future, and also meet the team.
17 April Easter Bank Holiday Monday
After the wet weather over the previous days, it could have been reasonably expected that the Sealed Knot Easter Bank Holiday event would be a bit of a washout, however this was not the case, as the sun shone brightly and the Knot were on top form. Visitors turned up in droves resulting in a very successful event. The Red Tower team were brilliant and made a significant contribution.
19 April Gap in the Wall created
The gap in the western wall finally materialised, as did the installation of the telephone cabling by Openreach.
20 April Utility pit and trenches dug – wall exposed
The pit dug adjacent to the tower’s eastern wall to create service introduction points, was particularly interesting, as the brickwork exposed proved that it’s construction was in fact using the red bricks used on the original building, and not the stone blocks depicted in the Ridsdale Tate drawings we had been referencing. A few Victorian incomplete salt glaze pots were unearthed. These will be put on display in the tower after the upgrade is complete.
22 April Sheriff’s Army
As part of the annual Sheriff’s Army march around the city walls, the Red Tower CIC was delighted to offer the Tower as an R&R stop off location. Unfortunately, John Oxley the City of York Council’s archaeologist, who was scheduled to present talks at each historic location was unwell and could not be available to deliver a talk on the Red Tower. Barry Beckwith stepped into the breach and delivered the talk on his behalf. The Sheriff Cllr. Jonathan Tyler led the march accompanied by his lady wife Brenda, expressed a great interest in the history of the tower and our plans for its future.
31 May York Bike Belles
A beautiful sunny day welcomed York Bike Belles and their Red Brick Trail and Tea Party. The Red Brick trail around York was part of the ‘Our Beautiful City’ week of walking/cycling events, was devised and led by our own York Tour Guide Ian Tempest, and involved visiting many locations around York where similar red bricks have been used. The trail terminated at the Red Tower where a tea party awaited the arrival of the Bike Belles on completion of the tour around York. Thanks to the Tower team for such hard work.
5 July Mini Massages
June Tranmer and the Healing Clinic in York, secured some funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to help the local residents affected by the Boxing Day 2015 floods, be they be actual victims or those who helped, recover and get some relief from all the tension and trauma of that time. The funding was to provide Mini Massage sessions. During the months of cold weather these sessions were carried out at Penny’s in Walmgate. As the weather improved, the Red Tower was happy to help with this by offering the use of the garden area.
8 July Edible Open Day
Edible York is a charitable organisation which links York’s community food gardening projects. The Red Tower growing beds are happy to be associated with this organisation. We took part in its open day when every garden linked to Edible York invited members of the public to view the beds in city wide locations.
14 July St John University Fund raising
The Red Tower assisted, and made the Tower and it facilities available to a group of St John University students, for a work experience fundraising event as a degree assignment. Proceeds were donated to the Red Tower CIC.
16 July Resident’s BBQ
The success of the Walmgate Community Association BBQ at the Red Tower was outstanding. The event was attended by Rachael Maskell MP and the three Guildhall Ward Councillors, in addition to many local residents. There were also consultations on the adult gym equipment to be installed, the castle Gateway, plans for dealing with future flooding, plans for a fully funded training program for businesses, the Jorvik Handling collection, details of how the Community Association could work and recruitment of new members. Also in attendance was June Tranmer performing feel good ‘Mini Massages’. Plenty of willing hands and the attendance of local people contributed to the overall success of the day. The sun shone and a great time was had by all. Well done to all those who worked so hard to make it such a success.
22 July Regular Saturday opening starts
To take advantage of the summer months and maintain a presence at the Tower in between events, the directors agreed to open the cafe each Saturday until the Heritage Open Day in September.
30 July Garden Update
A great team effort on our edible growing beds produced lots of weeding, planting, watering and general husbandry. Produce looked really good.
16 August Utility Update
Finally the pace was picking up with the installation of the sewage and water systems.
24 August OCAY Advice centre
Ruth Potter of the Older Citizen’s Advocacy York carried out the first of what is hoped to many community outreach advice sessions. She was accompanied by Susan Wood an adviser from Citizen’s Advice York offering advice on ways to reduce energy bills.
9 & 10 September Heritage Open Days
Without a doubt the Red Tower’s participation in the National Heritage Open Days on both Saturday and Sunday was a massive success. As a final event before our internal upgrade, it could not have been a better way to demonstrate what can be achieved in such a short amount of time. We managed to record some 480 visitors and probably exceeded 500 across both days. Visitors from Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Switzerland, Poland, Australia and Canada were welcomed, as well as many from across the UK and local residents. Our thanks go to all the directors and volunteers who pitched in with serving drinks, cakes and washing up.
We cannot thank Tom Gibson and his wife Donna enough. They displayed an impressive array of Viking artefacts throughout Saturday, also CO Stuart assisted by Dave, Tristan and the rest of their participating cohort of the York Sealed Knot Sir Thomas Glemham Regiment of Foote, whose presence attracted an immense amount of interest on Sunday. Those who attended the York Civic Trust’s knowledgeable presentation delivered by Trevor Julian also on Sunday were informed in a most interesting way, how York has changed over many centuries, and how the Civic Trust is working hard to ensure York’s Heritage is preserved.
6 November Tower handed over to Croft Farm Construction
After a lot of nail biting, hair pulling and very traumatic stops and starts, the final stage of the Red Tower upgrade commenced. The Tower was officially handed over the Phil Gledall the Croft Farm MD and his management team. Big sighs of relief all round for the team of Red Tower directors who could only dream of this day arriving.
The final event for the team before Christmas was to gather together for a well deserved celebration meal.
The future of the Red Tower is secured, and it will be a most valuable resource for our beautiful city. What we have already achieved would not have been possible without the support of some very generous funding organisations, the City of York Council and a very dedicated team of directors and volunteers.
Well done everyone past and present who have helped us arrive at where we are today. The Red Tower of the future will need lots of keen volunteers to staff the refurbished building, so if you fancy joining a superb team, why not contact us on email@example.com when we can arrange for you to visit the tower and see what you can do to help.
You can view the Tower Upgrade work via the History Page here http://redtoweryork.org.uk/index.php/red-tower-history/