CASTLE Hill’s iconic Victoria Tower is set to be a tourist hotspot this year.
Buoyed by record visitor numbers in 2010, tourism chiefs are to open up the Tower more than ever.
Longer opening hours will be boosted by openings during all the school holidays, as opposed to just weekend openings as in the past.
The decision was taken after tremendous public support of the first-ever Christmas openings at the tower, when 511 people visited over five half-days between Christmas and New Year.
Now the monument which was built to mark 60 years of Queen Victoria’s reign will open during school holidays (apart from February half-term) in addition to its usual weekend openings over spring and summer.
The hours of opening will also be extended.
The tower, which affords panoramic views from the open viewing platform at the end of a climb of 165 steps, also opened for the first time every day during last summer’s school holidays – that will be repeated this year.
The tower will be open throughout Easter, Spring Bank, October half-term and for two weeks over Christmas and New Year (apart from Christmas weekend).
Castle Hill Ranger Julian Brown said: “This is a big increase on the Easter and then weekend openings between May Bank Holiday and the end of September that operated previously.
“From the public response to the extra openings last summer and at Christmas, it is clear that people really enjoy going up the tower”.
He added: “Visitors at Yuletide included people who said they hadn’t been up the tower in years because it had always been closed when they visited Castle Hill. As well as local people, we also had visitors from all over the UK and Europe.”
The number of visitors to Victoria Tower since the start of April 2010 is nearly at the 13,000 mark – that’s nearly four times as many as the number of visitors in Julian’s first year as Castle Hill Ranger after his appointment in 2004.
vOpenings for 2011:
Easter/May Day Holiday (Sat, April 16 – Monday, May 2), noon-4.30pm daily;
Saturdays and Sundays: noon-4.30pm, Saturday, May 7 – Sunday, May 22.
Spring Bank Holiday: noon-4.30pm, daily, Saturday, May 28 – Sunday, June 5.
Saturday and Sundays: noon-4.30pm, Saturday, June 11 – Sunday, July 17.
Summer Holidays: Saturday, July 23 - Sunday, September 4, noon-4.30pm daily;
Saturdays and Sundays: noon-4.30pm, Saturday, September 10 – Sunday, October 16 (free entry on Heritage Open Days, September 10 and 11).
October Half-Term Holiday, October 22 - October 30, 12noon-4.30pm daily;
Christmas: 11am-3pm daily, Saturday, December 17 – Friday, December 23, and Tuesday, December 27 – Saturday, December 31.
Admission charges are £1.50 adults, 50p children and £3.00 for a family ticket.
There is free admission for Kirklees Passport holders.