The HLF Project
The Reading Abbey Revealed project
South transept chapel ruins, with Reading Prison behind
In December 2015 the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) confirmed that Reading Borough Council's ‘second round’ funding application had been successful. This means the Council can finally fulfil its long-standing ambition to re-open the Abbey Ruins and Gateway to the public. The HLF is supporting the project with a grant of £1.77, with Council match funding of £1.38 million. Conservation work will start in February 2017.
An exciting programme of events and educational activities will breathe new life into one of Reading’s historic gems, and sits alongside an extensive programme of conservation works to the Abbey Ruins and the Abbey Gateway. Site-wide interpretation of the Abbey Quarter will include a new display at Reading Museum.
Following the announcement in June 2014 that Reading Borough Council had been successful in its ‘first round’ HLF bid, the Council began the process to developing detailed plans. It embarked on an extensive consultation with stakeholders and the public. More than 1,000 Reading residents responded to an online survey conducted earlier this year on the Abbey Quarter project, indicating widespread public support for the Council’s Reading Abbey Revealed project.
Conservation proposals for the Ruins and Gateway have been prepared and approved following detailed condition surveys and trial repairs undertaken during the project’s development phase with specialists, architects and in close relationship with Historic England.
People will have the opportunity to learn about the Abbey Quarter through extensive and accessible new interpretation information that will uncover its hidden heritage and reveal its pivotal significance to Reading’s history. A five year programme of events and activities in and around the site will be coordinated by newly appointed specialist staff managed by Reading Museum in collaboration with a variety of organisations and partners. These activities will range from hard-hat tours during the conservation work to a high profile opening event.
Local people and visitors from further afield will also benefit from the Museum’s well known track-record in both community engagement and volunteering. The Museum has recently successfully renewed its ‘Investing in Volunteer’ status and will use this expertise to establish a wider Abbey volunteering programme that from 2017 will actively engage 35 new regular volunteers who will contribute across a broad range of activities to care for and share the Abbey’s heritage.
The current project timetable as follows:
- March 2016: project started with the procurement of the contractors for the capital conservation and interpretation programmes.
- February 2017: work starts on site and will take up to 2 years to complete.
- 2017: Advertisement for volunteering roles begins.
- Mid/late 2018: the Abbey Ruins fully open to the public, complemented by a programme of events and activities.
- The successful HLF award means the accompanying activity programme will continue beyond the opening until the end of 2020.
Date updated: 13 Jan 2017