A crowdfunding campaign launched to save an historic cast iron turnstile from Swanage Pier in Dorset has reached its target inside three days.
Around 30 supporters pledged £950 between them, including two anonymous donations of £300 and £200, preventing the turnstile’s sale to collectors from Herefordshire.
The cast iron turnstile was seen for sale at £900 in Sixtyone and the alarm was raised
Spotted for sale in High Street
It will now be fully restored and put on display in Swanage where residents and visitors will be able to appreciate and enjoy it, possibly at Swanage Museum.
Antiques dealer Alex Koerber put the turnstile up for sale after acquiring it along with a signed declaration of provenance declaring that it was the original article.
But when Rob Sutton spotted it for sale in Swanage High Street shop Sixtyone, he raised the alarm by asking online whether local residents really wanted it to be lost to the town – and the overwhelming response was that no one did.
Staff at Sixtyone agreed to give the group seven days of first refusal for the turnstile and Swanage fundraiser Sarah Brookes decided to move things along by setting up a Crowdfunder page to raise £900.
The turnstile was put up for sale in antique shop Sixtyone by dealer Alex Koerber
“I just couldn’t believe it”
“From the start, we decided to declare that if we didn’t raise the £900 asking price for the turnstile, then any money pledged would go to Purbeck charities.
“I just couldn’t believe it when we hit the target after just a few days but I couldn’t stop the fundraising campaign as Crowdfunder says that pages must run for at least a week.
“I was able to put another message up asking people not to pledge any more as we had already hit our target, and now we are making plans to have the turnstile displayed for everyone to enjoy.
“Alex Koerber got the turnstile with a letter signed by the Swanage Pier Trust to say it’s genuinely off the pier. Well done Alex on spotting it and rescuing it, but it did seem crazy that the pier wanted to let it go rather than have it on display somewhere.”
The foot pedal has damage and will need to be restored using the extra funds raised
Sold to fund the pier’s renovation
It’s understood that the turnstile was removed from Swanage Pier many years ago, when the kiosks were being refurbished to widen the entrance road for vehicles.
It was left in storage until during a fundraising push, the pier was offered a donation in return for the turnstile that was no longer in use.
The money went towards saving the pier from collapsing and was part of the essential match funding in order to secure the grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the renovation of the pier.
“We are an amazing town”
“Some people from Herefordshire were measuring it up to buy, so I knew we had to act fast and I told Sixtyone that I would use whatever was raised in the first few days as a deposit, little thinking that two days later I would be ringing them up again to say I had all the money and asking them to put a sold label on it.
“Swanage Museum is interested in it and I’m hoping that it will go there – a little renovation may be needed on the foot pedal, but I’m hoping to use the funds left over for those repairs.
“It would be great if we could also get the dummy who used to sit by the turnstile and dress him in a Swanage Pier uniform to go alongside it!
“It says wonderful things about Swanage that so many people gave money immediately to keep a piece of the town’s history for our heritage.
“When everyone gets together we are an amazing town. It’s the values and the community spirit that sets us apart from everyone else, whenever we set our minds to something, we can do it.”
Swanage Pier entrance at the turn of the 20th Century shows a turnstile on the far left
And the Swanage Pier as it is today, with the left kiosk moved over to create a wider entrance
Model includes a foot pedal
Sarah is now trying to find out more about the turnstile, one of a variety which were made by WT Ellison up until 1963.
The model they have includes a foot pedal allowing the operator to lock and unlock the turnstile as each person passes through, along with the brass counting mechanisms for attendance figures.
Photographs of Swanage Pier from the early 20th Century do show what appear to be identical turnstiles to the left of the pier’s entrance.
- More about the history of Swanage Pier