Use lottery funds to promote hidden history’

LAST week the planned town lottery was being lined up to pay for a giant. This week a St Neots historian has suggested the money could be used to promote the hidden history of the town. The idea is being put forward by Peter Ibbett, a member of the touri

LAST week the planned town lottery was being lined up to pay for a giant. This week a St Neots historian has suggested the money could be used to promote the hidden history of the town.

The idea is being put forward by Peter Ibbett, a member of the tourism and heritage committee of St Neots Town Centre Initiative.

He contacted The Hunts Post after reading last week's front page which reported suggestions that money generated from a town lottery could be used to build a statue of the Eynesbury Giant.

Mr Ibbett also agrees that the money should be used to preserve the town's heritage and boost tourism, but has suggested a Priory heritage trail would be the way forward.


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"The Priory area could be improved as part of a heritage plan to show off the three, 13th century column bases of the Priory of St Neot, which at present lie unseen under man-hole covers.

"A statue of St Neot with a model of his lost Priory could also be part of a heritage trail."

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The proposed trail would start and finish at the Cross Keys, and tour the Priory area of the town.

The trail would include a mural showing the inside of the Priory church, the cloisters and details of how beer was once made at the town's brewery.

Mr Ibbett would also like to see plaques and information boards explaining the importance of the Bell foundry, the rowing club and Eynesbury brick pits. Also incorporated would be a mini nature trail and a statue to St Neot. Central to the tour would be the three columns of the formal Priory that lie beneath three manhole covers in the Waitrose car park.

"I believe that this is an area that should be for the community rather than to add to the developer's profit," added Mr Ibbett. "I believe that a Heritage trail with the help of local groups can make a significant difference to the quality of life in an area.

"The Priory area has, in my view, great potential to be a heritage flagship for Huntingdonshire."

The former Priory of St Neot lies beneath the town centre and is believed to date back to between 972 and 975. Excavations in 1993 revealed part of the medieval Priory and 40 burials sites, including that of a priest.

The idea of establishing a weekly lottery in St Neots is being investigated by the town council. It is estimated it could generate up to £1,500 a week for the town, with cash prizes of up to £700.

Ideas on what the money should be spent on are still being discussed while questionnaires are to be sent out to residents asking if they would support a lottery.

INFORMATION: Anyone wanting to find out more about a Priory heritage trail can contact Peter Ibbett by e-mailing pjibbett@aol.com

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