April 20 2014 Latest news:

A fearsome band of pirates went on the rampage in Wells yesterday.

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They kidnapped Wells town crier Peter Bix, tied him to a beacon and have threatened to cut his throat if the town does not pay his £1m ransom in the next 24 hours.

It was a hoax, on this occasion, to promote the Wells Pirate Festival, but who knows what will happen when the pirates are back in town for the big event.

The festival will run from September 7 to September 9 and is being run for the second time after making its debut last year.

It raises money for The Wells Maltings Project, a £3m scheme to renovate a complex of historic community buildings in the heart of Wells.

The festival is organised by Wells Maltings project manager Becky Jefcoate and community partnership co-ordinator Ben Francis along with a team of volunteers.

Miss Jefcoate said: “The festival was absolutely fantastic last year. About 6,000 people attended and we raised £6,000 along with awareness of the Maltings Project.

“There will be loads of things going on and we’re now asking people to come out, drink lots of rum and donate lots of money towards a very worthwhile cause.”

The celebrations kick off on September 7 at 2.30pm when pupils from Wells Primary School will help hoist the Jolly Roger on the mast of Wells’ very own pirate boat, The Albatross.

The smugglers’ ball will be at The Maltings on the Friday from 7.30pm where people can enter a pirate gambling den and enjoy pirate band Freeman Street. Tickets are £15 and can be bought from Kinsleys on Staithe Street.

There will be a pirate market all weekend and people can bid for pairs of pirate pants, signed buy celebrities including Dermott O’Leary, Graham Norton, Kimberley Walsh, Michael Ball and Russell Tovey.

There will also be a pirate parade through the town, starting at the Tourist Information Centre at 3pm on the Saturday and anyone in pirate fancy dress is welcome to join in.

Historical re-enactors will be sword-fighting, musket-firing and boat-boarding all weekend.

People can take a boat trip past Pirate Island and catch a glimpse of a real pirate marooned off Wells.

There will also be a pirate fete, pirate pub quiz and spooky smugglers walk which takes people through the darker side of Wells’ maritime history.

New for this year are ‘Pirates on the Pitch’ with fairground rides on Beach Road Playing Field and ‘Pirates on the Park’ on the Buttlands with plenty of pirate-themed live entertainers including a rock band, sea shanties, poetry and belly-dancers.

The Granary Theatre will show an exclusive early screening of The Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists and youngsters can also enjoy a pirate pantomime.

The festival won last year’s East Zone Action for Market Towns Awards which recognises the outstanding contribution the project made in benefiting Wells through tourism.

The Wells Maltings project includes plans for a museum, a major expansion of The Granary Theatre, a cafe, a viewing gallery overlooking the sea, a new tourist information desk and youth facilities over the next few years.

Miss Jefcoate said: “The project is going well considering the economic climate and this festival is doing a great job in raising its profile.”

The festival has been sponsored by Scira, Kinsleys and Hudson Architects.

The full programme of events is being finalised. For the latest updates on the festival, go to www.wellsmaltings.org

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