A VACANT building is set to be transformed into a museum celebrating Harwich's history, thanks to a generous benefactor.

The Harwich Society will be given a lease on the former MPH building near Harwich's High Lighthouse to turn it into a museum full of artefacts linked to Harwich.

The building, which was originally the offices of CH Bernard and Son, has the potential to include a lecture room, exhibition centre and a cafe as well as a museum due to its size.

Colin Farnell, Harwich Society's chairman, said: “The Harwich Society has so many artefacts in store because of a lack of space to exhibit them and this will be a wonderful opportunity to create something really special.

"We are extremely grateful and very excited.

"There is a lot of careful planning to do as we want to get as much as possible right first time.”

Richard Colley, one of the society's trustees, has drawn up the planning application for a change of use and it has been sent to Tendring Council.

The building is set to have a reception area and toilets for visiting coach parties, and the site has enough room to park a coach which has been a long term difficulty in the area.

Mr Farnell added: "This will be the biggest single project that the Harwich Society has taken on since the restoration of the Redoubt Fort began in 1969.

“It’s a big challenge but the potential benefit to Historic Harwich is enormous so it is one we are very much looking forward to.”

A Harwich Society spokesman was unable to say who the local benefactor was or the cost of the project at this time.

Tendring Council will have the final say on the plans.