A crowdfunder launched by the Margate Caves Education Community Trust aims to raise £10,000 as part of the project to get the former chalk mines back open to the public by 2019.
The Caves group has secured a grant of £1,115,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and more than £420,000 from the Big Lottery Fund for its ambitious mixed-use scheme for the site at the end of Northdown Road.
Over the last six years, the Trust and the Friends of Margate Caves have worked with residents and groups to design a landmark building that includes community facilities, alongside a visitor centre that will provide access to the restored Caves. Designed by award-winning architects Kaner Olette, the building received planning permission in 2015.
The grant money will be used for a new visitor centre, including a community café, and to refurbish the Caves, which were closed in 2004, and to provide much-needed community facilities.
The funding also supports a series of commissions for artists, an activity programme that takes the Caves out to the community, and the development of a learning scheme for schools. It will provide training for volunteers not only at the Caves, but also those working at other heritage attractions locally.
But before the building work starts an archaeological evaluation has to be carried out.
The crowdfunder has been launched to pay for this and for events, workshops and talks before and during the building of the new visitor centre and community rooms.
Iron Age ditches were found on a dig on the site next door to the Caves, possibly part of a hill fort or enclosed settlement, meaning the history of the site starts with some of the earliest known settlers on the Isle of Thanet.
The Caves Trust needs to get started with archaeological work, including test digs, now.
As part of the crowdfunder people can donate any amount or chose a fixed total with rewards, such as a £10 donation earning a Caves supporter pack, £25 for a Caves shopper deal right up to £1,000 to be a Caves explorer and have your name on the new visitor centre wall or £5,000 to be a Caves VIP with invites to the dig and a private tour.
To find out more, and make a pledge, go to http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/margate-caves