A PEMBROKE Dock community group has expressed its deep regret at the loss of a once highly-praised attraction, following a county council decision to sell off a rare Victorian gun tower.

The Cambridge Gun Tower on Front Street, known locally as the Martello Tower, is being placed up for auction by Pembrokeshire County Council.

It is one of only three Cambridge gun towers in the whole of the UK.

It is expected to be auction in July, and local county councillor Josh Beynon has raised his concerns.

A Pembroke Dock Museum Trust spokesman said: “The Front Street Gun Tower – known locally as the Martello Tower – was refurbished by South Pembrokeshire District Council and opened as a Tourist Information Centre and small museum by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1996.

“In 2001 it was leased by Pembrokeshire County Council to the Pembroke Dock Museum Trust and was developed into a highly-praised town museum. The Museum Trust ran it very successfully with a team of volunteers for several years until major water penetration problems forced its closure to the public. It took some years for specialist work to be agreed and then carried out to prevent water ingress.

“In 2018 an application was made for a Community Asset Transfer of the building to the Museum Trust, but this was turned down by the county council.

“There is great regret and disappointment that due to the financial climate affecting heritage and arts organisations and local government across the country, that there is no way for the Museum Trust to continue to operate the gun tower as a heritage attraction.

“Pembroke Dock’s unique history already brings in visitors from all over the world, contributing to the much-needed regeneration of this community. However, in spite of well-documented evidence that demonstrates the community value of museums and heritage throughout the UK, funding is becoming increasingly scarce and only a very small handful of high-profile organisations are able to achieve financial viability without support for paying some core costs.

“The gun tower is a very significant and unique historic military building. Dating from 1851 it is one of only three Cambridge Gun Towers left in the UK; all three are in Pembrokeshire and this is the only one for which public access could still be achieved.

“The Museum Trust will now continue to work with other heritage organisations in Pembroke Dock to ensure that its collection of artefacts and memorabilia will continue to be cared for and made accessible to the public.”

A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council has previously said: "The county council can confirm that the Martello Tower at Front Street, Pembroke Dock, it is to be sold unless a viable and sustainable offer is received from the community.

"We are still prepared to listen to any community group that wants to make such a proposal."