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Proud Cestrians have taken matters into their own hands and opened a unique “history hub” on the Roman Walls.

Tourists flocking to the ancient landmark will be able to enjoy guided tours and go inside the recently renovated towers, from Saturday, August 9.

Opening in the former Blue Coat bookshop off Northgate Street, the centre is filled with photos of the walls, creating a timeline from Roman times to the present day.

The opening of the centre, which coincides with the Civil War reenactment, comes after entrances to the Walls were shut off to tourists after they were deemed unsafe by the council.

Gordon Emery, who created the innovative project in partnership with Friends of the Walls, said he hoped the centre would become a 'permanent' attraction in the city – it is currently only scheduled to be open for six weeks.

“Everyone walks around the walls and looks at the towers,” said Mr Emery, who said Chester's City Walls had a vast number of uses over the years and terrified the Saxons who thought they had been built by giants.

“This will be right in the middle of the towers. The volunteers want to try and help people to learn about the history of the Walls.

“We wanted to look at the idea of Walls and the things that they are used for, not just in Chester, but around the world.”

The centre will also be home to artist-in-residence Jason Hurst, who will encourage children to draw pictures of the Walls.

There will also be a local poet, activities for children and the opportunity to access local history books, and a competition to create a mural of the heritage landmark.

Steve Howe, who is part of the project, hopes the centre will breathe new life into the Walls, parts of which, including Watergate Street Bridge, have been ‘propped up’ for months.

The Recorder Steps to the City Walls could be 'propped up'
 

“Parts of the Walls around this side of the city are still propped up,” said Mr Howe.

He added that receiving an award for the Portico project , which saw the towers refurbished, was good but it was not a “job well done”.

“A bit of poncing-up of the towers is not good enough. We are going to step in and make this centre for people to visit.”

In 2012 parts of the City Walls were closed to the public as the council made essential repairs as part of  Portico co-operative European Project, which saw viewing platforms installed at King Charles Tower, the Roodee and Morgan’s Mount.

The council earmarks £600,000 a year for the upkeep of the Walls, and say that since 2009 they have spent £3M repairing and maintaining the world renowned landmark.

Cheshire West and Chester Council said last year over 2.7M people visited the Roman Walls, a figure taken from a consultation as part of the Portico project, for which they received a planning and conservation honour.

The Walls Interpretation Centre is open from Saturday and will run for six weeks, ending the week of the Heritage Open Days which run from September 11-14.

Parts of Roman Walls to be 'propped up' after safety fears  

Chester role in English Civil War to be reenacted at festival