Colchester Roman Circus appeal gets boost

A MYSTERY benefactor has pledged £10,000 to try to save Colchester’s Roman Circus.

The historic site, near Napier Road, will be taken over by developers unless £200,000 can be raised by January 31.

A consortium, consisting of Colchester Archelogical Trust and Destination Colchester, launched a fundraising campaign last week, and has already secured more than £30,000.

Anne Turrell, leader of Colchester Council, has said she will donate £5,000 from her leader’s fund, while her fellow Lib Dem councillors have pledged a total of £2,000 for the Circus from their own pockets.

The mystery man said: “I recently visited Rome and, while people might assume the centre of Rome was the Coliseum, in fact it was the Circus Maximus.

“It was used for all kinds of athletic events, not just chariot-racing.

“We should be proud that in this country we have something similar, if on a slightly smaller scale.”

Wendy Bailey, chairman of Destination Colchester and one of the key organisers of the group, said: “It’s just superb and so generous.”

The University of Essex has donated £5,000. Dr Tony Rich, registrar and secretary at the university, said: “This is a one-off opportunity to protect a vital part of Colchester’s Roman heritage.

“The university is pleased to support such an important project, which involves protecting a fundamental part of Colchester’s heritage.

“It will also allow important further research and development of our knowledge of the town’s history and leave open the potential for developing an important visitor attraction.”

Bill Hayton, co-ordinator of the Save Colchester’s Roman Circus campaign, said: “We are fantastically grateful for the university pledging money.”

Nigel Offen, Colchester councillor for Shrub End, confirmed his Lib Dem colleagues would be donating funds out of their own pockets, not from council funds.

He said: “I don’t think the council is going to be able to come up with very much.”

The developers, Taylor Wimpey, have agreed to sell the site to the group for £750,000.

The group managed to raise £500,000 prior to last week’s announcement of the fundraising campaign.

To donate, visit the website www.romancircus.org

Comments (3)

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7:31pm Mon 14 Dec 09

Sdapeze says...

This is wonderful news indeed. Twenty ore like that and we will have our circus back in our hands again. Who gave it away in the first place and for how much?
This is wonderful news indeed. Twenty ore like that and we will have our circus back in our hands again. Who gave it away in the first place and for how much? Sdapeze

7:44pm Mon 14 Dec 09

Goonerboy says...

This is crazy.We have one of the worlds most important finds and we have to have a fund raising exercise to keep it. Listed buildings cannot even fit double glazing without incurring the wrath of the council , so how can we build over a site of such importance. If ever there was a worthy cause for lottery money then this is it. We can fund obscure causes and Arts facilities at £25m but not this . Shame.
This is crazy.We have one of the worlds most important finds and we have to have a fund raising exercise to keep it. Listed buildings cannot even fit double glazing without incurring the wrath of the council , so how can we build over a site of such importance. If ever there was a worthy cause for lottery money then this is it. We can fund obscure causes and Arts facilities at £25m but not this . Shame. Goonerboy

8:02pm Mon 14 Dec 09

Sdapeze says...

Let us hope that a lesson can be learned from this debacle. The area where the circus lies was already known to be rich in archaeological finds and it was to be expected that more would be found. Now we find ourselves having to buy back our heritage from the vultures who have only their own self interest at their core. What happens when we find the Roman amphitheatre that must lie somewhere nearby? Clauses must be introduced to future contracts whereby our heritage is protected from the likes of Taylor Wimpey.
Let us hope that a lesson can be learned from this debacle. The area where the circus lies was already known to be rich in archaeological finds and it was to be expected that more would be found. Now we find ourselves having to buy back our heritage from the vultures who have only their own self interest at their core. What happens when we find the Roman amphitheatre that must lie somewhere nearby? Clauses must be introduced to future contracts whereby our heritage is protected from the likes of Taylor Wimpey. Sdapeze

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