DARWEN folk are holding their breath this week as they await the decision of the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NHLF) who have been considering an application for funding to help restore Darwen Tower.

John Jacklin, of Darwen Rotary, who have taken charge of fund-raising, said: “The next few days will probably decide the future of a Darwen icon that has stood sentinel over the town for 120 years.

“The whole town has fingers – and everything else – firmly crossed.”

The town’s Tower Fund has raised nearly £70,000 towards the restoration of the Jubilee Tower but probably three times that amount will be needed to ensure that the tower doesn’t disappear from its moorland setting for ever.

Journalist Harold Heys, an expert on the history of the tower said: “We are all holding our breath. The NHLF gives grants to sustain and transform the UK’s heritage and bring it to life for generations to come. Well, that’s us.”

Darwen Rotary and Blackburn with Darwen Council put in a detailed application for funds.

Mr Heys said: “The tower can be seen for miles around and from the top you can see the southern Lakes, the hills of North Wales, Pennine peaks and the Isle of Man.

“Successive generations of Darwen folk have thought of it as a symbol of home – whether they have been away fighting in foreign lands, taking a short holiday or working away.”

Local historian Tony Foster is confident that the near £70,000 raised locally will help to sway the NHLF to a favourable decision. “We haven’t just gone cap in hand. The whole town has been putting their hands in their pockets in the past few months.

“In recent years the tower has taken a real battering from the weather and moorland fires and a lot of work needs to be done – and quickly.”

Among the projects to support the tower fund is an excellent short film in which youngsters act out the story of the freeing of the moors and the erection of the tower.

It will be shown next Tuesday (November 19) at 7pm at Darwen Library Theatre. The evening will include a big screen display of photos and artwork, and there will be a Q & A session in which local folk can ask about the history of the moors and the tower – and what the future might hold.

Filmmakers Scott Bradley and Darwen lass Natasha Hawthornthwaite of Preston-based Northern Heart Films, have produced the film which is narrated by Darwen drama student Evie Hargreaves.

Says Mr Jacklin: “Everyone loves the tower, and we are hoping for a good attendance. “