Owned by the Whanganui District Council but left to decay and prov' />

Whanganui Airport's control tower was decommissioned in 1989 after 38 years' service.
Owned by the Whanganui District Council but left to decay and provide spare parts for other buildings, the tower still stands, a little defiant, still elegant, and now in the process of being restored.
The restoration process was started by the late Owen Cantillon-Rice in 2002 and has led to the top floor, the cab, the room that once housed the equipment that allowed air traffic controllers to do their job, being restored. The original console has been restored as far as possible, subject to parts having been removed.The fundraising and work took eight years from the foundation of the Wanganui Airport Control Tower Restoration Group (Inc). Standing in the room, enjoying 360 degrees of view across the airport, out to sea and down to the river mouth, gives one a true feeling of the importance of this building - as it was when it was in use, and now as a landmark, as a symbol of Whanganui's respect for the past that shaped it.
But there is still a lot of work to do to restore the dignity of the tower.
"Stage 2 requires removing the plywood from the floor below and the one below that," says Peter Warnock, Airport Tower Restoration Group secretary. "There is a total of 64 windows to be done. The window frames are steel and in this toxic environment they distorted and the glass started to break so the Council put up plywood to keep the weather out. It did, partly. The total cost of Stage 2 is $337,000 plus GST."
Stage 2 involves removing and checking all window frames, checking their condition and either sandblasting and regalvanising or replacing them, and reglazing.
"When the windows are back in and settled, the exterior will be back to normal."
The radio chattered occasionally as aircraft arrived or left, and a computer screen displayed weather and airport information, available to aircraft within 30km of the airfield. Lynn Annear, a member of the group who volunteers on Sundays when the building is open to the public, is a former air traffic controller so understands the radio traffic.
"For funding, the key was to get a major funder and Owen had initial talks with the Lotteries Commission. They said they would support it with $190,000 if the group could raise the rest," says Peter. The Commission imposed a deadline of October this year. If the group fails to obtain the necessary funds by then, the Lotteries Commission will withdraw its offer.
"Councillor Helen Craig became interested in the project and she did not want to see this money lost to the city. Where we are now is Powerco Wanganui Trust has given $25,000, Whanganui Community Foundation has given us $5000, the Council had put aside the magnificent sum of $40,000, so we have a shortage now of $72,000, assuming we can get the money in time."
The Council has now said they will discuss putting the required amount into the 2016/2017 Annual Plan. Not definite, not ideal. The cost to demolish the building is $150,000.
A number of Whanganui businesses are generously supporting the work.
"People are interested," says Lynn. "We've had more than 1000 people visit us. It could be quite a tourist attraction. It could be a really good entry to Whanganui. We could make it into a really good educational situation for schools.
"But we need to know exactly what's going on so we can develop things."
Air Training Corps cadets have already visited.
Owen Cantillon-Rice started an aviation museum in the building, work which has since stopped while its future is in limbo.
Anyone interested in helping, contact Russell Fleming, Chairman, 021 524 244.

210416PBTower2 The Whanganui Airport Control Tower today. PICTURE / PAUL BROOKS
210416PBTower2 The Whanganui Airport Control Tower today. PICTURE / PAUL BROOKS