Nothe Fort, a Victorian fort operated by Weymouth Civic Society as a heritage tourist attraction, has been awarded £320,000 from the Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND), which is being delivered by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The money will pay for remedial work to address significant water ingress issues that have been holding the organisation back from further developing its heritage interpretation.
Nothe Fort is Weymouth’s top rated tourist attraction after the town’s award-winning beach and historic harbour. It has won multiple awards and is a Scheduled Monument. But it leaks.
Over the 150 years since the Fort was constructed, changes to its structure and the gradual blocking of historic rainwater drainage routes have created an increasingly damp environment within exhibition spaces. To address this we need to clear and repair drains and gutters, seal gaps and re-point the extensive external walls.
“We would like to say a huge thank you to Arts Council England’s MEND team, as well as to Dorset Council, which supported us in securing the grant,” said James Farquharson, Chairman of Nothe Fort. “We’ve big plans for Nothe Fort but we have been stymied from moving some of them forward due to the very damp environment in which they would need to be placed. This grant is going to transform what we can do, helping us make Weymouth an even better place in which to live or visit.”
All work being paid for by this grant will be staged to minimise disruption to visitors and is expected to be fully complete within two years. At the same time as the work progresses, the team will be developing plans for some exciting new displays, including immersive experiences in the Victorian gun deck and the Cold War nuclear fallout shelter, telling a local story of national importance.
Kate Hebditch, Co-Manager said “As a landmark on Weymouth’s coast, the Fort gets everything the weather can throw at it. This grant will give us much needed funds to solve the damp problem and preserve this spectacular building for the future. The Fort’s growing profile as an events venue demonstrates our importance to the local economy. We had record numbers of visitors in 2022 and we’re working to provide a heritage attraction that is an increasing source of pride in the community.”