Reading Borough Council has been successful in its £1.77 million bid for Heritage Lottery Fund support for the ‘Reading Abbey Revealed’ project

Today’s announcement (December 15) means the Council can finally fulfil its long-standingAbbeyRuins dormitory ambition to re-open the Abbey Ruins to the public.

Matthew Williams of Reading Museum talks about the Abbey and its importance in British history as well as Reading Museum, its collections and how it tells the story of Reading's place in the world. Watch him here

The Abbey restoration project

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.

Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) South East England Committee has now confirmed the Council’s successful second round application. The Council will contribute £1.38million to the project to reinvigorate Reading’s pre-eminent and nationally important heritage site.

The current project timetable is as follows:

  • March 2016: Project starts with the procurement and appointment of the main contractors for the capital conservation and interpretation programmes.
  • September 2016: Work starts on site and will take up to 2 years to complete.
  • Summer 2018: The Abbey Ruins will be 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. Conservation works will mean Reading residents and visitors will be able to benefit from this iconic heritage site for generations to come.

Councillor Paul Gittings, Lead Member for Culture at Reading Borough Council said:

“In the Abbey Ruins, Reading boasts a site of national significance and today’s announcement means the Council will fulfil its long-standing ambition to open it up fully to the public, alongside an exciting programme of events and activities.

“I’d like to thank the HLF for recognising the unique history of the Abbey and the importance of the Reading Abbey Revealed project. This award is the culmination of years of planning on the part of the Council and allows vital conservation works to take place which will preserve the ruins for generations of people to explore and enjoy.”

Find out more about the Abbey Quarter project on the Reading Museum website www.readingabbeyquarter.org.uk

Reading’s Successful HLF Bid

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 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 5-year programme of events and activities in and around the site that will be coordinated by newly appointed specialist staff managed by Reading Museum, and 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 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.