LEDBURY Places, the organisation responsible for the upkeep of the Elizabeth Barrett Browning Institute, has responded to criticism that the late Victorian building, which includes the town’s clock tower, is looking run down.

There has been some criticism recently that the interior of the building in particular is looking shoddy, despite being in use as a youth drop in centre.

But Ledbury Places says it has been a matter of prioritising existing funds for essential repairs, and a great deal has been spent.

Two Lottery bids for extra funds were not successful.

Ledbury Places spokesman, Alex Clive said: “We spent in the region of £80,000 on the outside of the Barrett Browning Institute during the early part of last year, making essential repairs to the outside of the building, including chimney stacks, roof, gutters, and wall panels.

“This was intended to make the envelope of the building safe and rainproof, which was a priority over making the interior look nice.”

Mr Clive added: “We have made two unsuccessful lottery bids which would have transformed the building, and we have now reverted to a more bottom up approach, developing emergent uses such as the youth group.

“Whilst the interior of the building does not look very smart inside, it serves well for current usage, without sucking up the limited funds still available.”

But more emergency fund-raising will be needed in the not so distant future.

Mr Clive said: “I think our biggest concern is for the clock tower, which we believe will need major refurbishment within the next five years or so.

One idea being considered is the setting up of “Clock Tower fund”, perhaps with the help and support of the public.

The Elizabeth Barrett Browning Institute is named after the Victorian poet and writer,who spent some of her childhood years at Hope End, near Wellington Heath.

The Institute was officially opened in 1896 by the writer, Sir Henry Rider Haggard, as a reading room. It became the town library in 1938 and remained so until the library moved to the Master’s House a few years ago.