Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Restoration hope for castle ruin

Sandsfoot Castle
Part of the castle has fallen into Portland Harbour

A Dorset castle which has been gradually crumbling into the sea for five centuries may finally be restored thanks to a lottery grant.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £23,100 to carry out a specialist survey of Sandsfoot Castle in Weymouth.

The money has been awarded to the Friends of the Rodwell Trail and Weymouth and Portland Council who want to reopen the ruined building.

The survey will help support a further bid for restoration funding.

The Ancient Scheduled Monument was built in the 1530s as a coastal defence for King Henry VIII but land slips and erosion have meant considerable chunks of it have fallen into Portland Harbour.

Premature destruction

The ruin is now fenced off to protect the public from falling masonry but the proposed project would stabilise, preserve and monitor the structure of the castle and make it safe for public access.

David Carter, Sandsfoot Castle project manager, said: "This is fantastic news.

"Our ultimate aim is to see Sandsfoot Castle saved from premature destruction.

"To our knowledge, there isn't another example of this style of Tudor fortification in the country so it's imperative that efforts are made to stabilise the structure that remains.

"We still have a way to go to achieve full funding but, for the time being, we'll revel in the success of the development grant and, with good support from our Heritage Lottery Fund Grants Officer, we will hopefully be able to enjoy the castle for generations to come."

The castle is one of the features along the Rodwell Trail, a footpath which follows the route of a historic railway.

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