One of Surrey’s most iconic buildings will soon be a holiday cottage to rent. 

The Semaphore Tower in Chatley Heath is being restored ready to be rented out for up to four people to stay in. 

The tower will also be opened up to the public on certain days of the year to visit with people still free to roam the land around it. 

The Grade II* listed building is the only surviving semaphore tower in Britain.

It was ordered to be built in 1816 and operated between 1822 and 1847 to carry messages between London and Portsmouth in a matter of minutes. 

However, it has fallen into disrepair with water ingress becoming a severe issue to the mast and the roof. 

Surrey County Council (SCC), which has a 99-year lease on the building, has the support of the Landmark Trust which will fund and carry out a £680,000 restoration project.

SCC leader Tim Oliver said it was a great opportunity to keep a much-loved building preserved and allow others to enjoy it.

He said: “It needed significant investment that we couldn’t justify. This will preserve the building and the land around it.”

The Landmark Trust is a charity that rescues important buildings that would otherwise be lost and restores them by making them available for holiday rentals. 

Over 1,000 people donated to a public appeal to contribute to the £680,000 needed to help restore the building. Other funds came from grants and donations.

Scaffolding has now gone up with workers on site to begin the repairs. 

Restoration plans for the Semaphore Tower will turn it into a four-storey rental for four people.

All income from rentals will go back to The Landmark Trust.

Floor plans show the basement will provide a bike shed for people to bring their own bike to explore the nearby area, then bedrooms on the first floor and second floor with a living room on the third floor and kitchen and dining room on the fourth floor.

The roof will allow people to sit and have a 360 degree view of Surrey. 

Richard Burton, surveyor at the Landmark Trust, said: “We’re delighted to have started work to restore the Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower. 

“A unique remnant from the Napoleonic era, the Grade II* listed brick structure is the only surviving semaphore tower in Britain. It was once a cutting-edge building at the forefront of technology and design, a vital link in a signalling chain that transmitted messages from Admiralty House in London to Portsmouth Docks in just a few minutes. 

“But in recent years water ingress has threatened the structural integrity of the building to an alarming degree.

“Thanks to the generosity of over 1,000 supporters to our public appeal, experienced contractors Valley Builders are now beginning to sympathetically and sensitively restore the structure. 

“We are transforming the site into self-catering holiday accommodation for up to four people, and look forward to welcoming visitors from near and far for holidays and free open days on completion.”

Chatley Heath is said to be a nationally important site for dragonflies and damselflies. The tower is surrounded by 800 acres of woodland and heathland that can also be explored. 

Landmark Trust hopes to have the restoration finished and opened for bookings by the end of this year. 

The charity also runs rentals for Goddards in Abinger Common which has a bowling alley, a 19th century gatehouse at Oxenford in Elstead and The Georgian House on the alley leading to Henry VIII’s Real Tennis Court at Hampton Court Palace. 

A four night stay at these range from £343 to £1,785. The prices to stay at the Semaphore Tower have not yet been released.