Lottery bid to make Emsworth a ‘tourist leader’ to boost economy after bank closures

High Street, Emsworth

High Street, Emsworth

Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier could bolster Portsmouth economy

  • Two of town’s three banks have closed in the past two years
  • But town is hugely succesful at putting on events
  • Now festival founder is bidding for National Lottery cash to make Emsworth a maritime destination promoting its history
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FEARS over the future of a town centre following the loss of two banks has prompted a bid for a large slice of lottery cash.

Over the past two years Emsworth has lost all but one of its banks leading to concern about footfall through the high street.

There’s a fascinating historical sequence of events which we can document to show what brought about these fundamental changes which affected businesses and in turn the residents and fortunes of Emsworth

Mark Ringwood

Now Mark Ringwood, the founder of successful arts festival WemsFest, has come up with a plan to encourage tourists into Emsworth by celebrating its maritime history – and giving the economy a boost.

A bid for £90,000 has been made to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Mr Ringwood should find out whether he has been successful early in the new year.

He said: ‘We hope it will create greater footfall in Emsworth following the closure of two of the three high street banks.

‘The arts can play a major role in initiating projects which can benefit both businesses and residents alike in both the short and long term.

‘We warmly support the initiatives shown by the Emsworth Business Association and feel that our aim of turning Emsworth into a maritime heritage destination can bring real benefits which will see a greater footfall of visitors from outside the area.

‘Our project application to Heritage Lottery fund is for funding to commemorate the past 400 years of the harbour and port as it changed from a very busy trading centre to a place of recreational excellence.

‘There’s a fascinating historical sequence of events which we can document to show what brought about these fundamental changes which affected businesses and in turn the residents and fortunes of Emsworth.’

Mr Ringwood said part of the plan is the creation of a maritime trail digital app, embracing technology to bring the history of the town to life in a creative way.

He added: ‘We believe the overall concept will be a market leader in terms of tourism.

‘Added to this, we hope to create a pool of qualified guides who will be able to show visitors the maritime importance of Emsworth and the history of relevant buildings.

‘It will also show the relevance which the playwright and lyricist PG Wodehouse had through the time in which he lived here on an ongoing basis.

‘Should we be successful with the bid we will be staging a number of additional events next June and July which are timed to take advantage of the pre-Americas Cup races in Portsmouth.’

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