Works have officially begun to transform Nottingham Castle into a world-class heritage destination, as Midlands contractor G F Tomlinson breaks ground on the £30m Castle Transformation Project.
Thanks to a £13,883,400 Heritage Lottery Fund grant, Nottingham Castle – a beacon of power, protest and rebellion throughout the centuries – will be revitalised upon the project’s completion in 2020, when it is expected to attract more than 400,000 visitors a year, more than double the current figures.
The works will convert the historic site into the region’s leading tourist destination, where the diverse heritage of the last 1,000 years will be revealed once again.
G F Tomlinson was appointed by project lead Nottingham City Council due to its established history of delivering heritage sector projects across the region. The first stage will see the contractor create a new state-of-the-art visitor centre and a new extension to the Ducal Palace, where brand-new Robin Hood and Rebellion galleries will be created to celebrate Nottingham’s most famous outlaw.
Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, a complete refurbishment of the Ducal Palace will also be delivered, with various galleries being created to showcase the Castle’s array of fine and decorative art collections, enabling visitors to experience the Castle’s rich history in an engaging and interactive way. The Castle grounds will also be remodelled and access to the impressive cave network hidden within the Castle rock will be improved.
New employment opportunities have already been created due to the works and G F Tomlinson will bring further employment and training opportunities for local people and students throughout the project, including work experience placements and apprenticeships.
Managing Director at G F Tomlinson, Andy Sewards, said: “Nottingham Castle is one of the city’s greatest treasures, with people from all over the world aware of its rich history. We understand the importance of the redevelopment of the Castle and the benefits this will bring to the local economy, so it’s an honour to have been chosen to deliver such important works.
“We look forward to working closely with the Council and other partners to transform the iconic landmark into a world-class tourist destination.”
Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio for Leisure and Localities, Cllr Dave Trimble, said: “Exciting times ahead – I’m looking forward to seeing some really fast progress on the site with G F Tomlinson on board. It’s amazing to see just how much impact their team has made already. I’m really looking forward to the re-opening in 2020 as we work to become a world class heritage site. We are thankful for the funding contributions being made by The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), D2N2 and the Nottingham Castle Trust – part of the great mix of funding and partnerships which has come together to support the Nottingham Castle development.”
Jonathan Platt, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands, said: “We are in close touch with the project and I am thrilled at the progress which has already taken place over a very short time. We look forward to working closely with Nottingham City Council as they deliver dramatic changes to the visitor experience at the Castle before it re-opens in a couple of years’ time.”
Sajeeda Rose, Interim Chief Executive Officer of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “The D2N2 LEP is proud to be involved as a funder and supporter on this project, helping to bring Nottingham’s history and heritage to life. The Visitor Economy is one of D2N2’s eight key sectors for our area of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire; and we are pleased to see progress being made on the project, which is already supporting local jobs through the redevelopment.”
Ted Cantle, Chair of the Nottingham Castle Trust, said: “After more than five years of working with the Council and having played a crucial role in the conception and design of the scheme, the Trust is pleased to be moving towards operating the site. We will now begin the process of commissioning the set-up arrangements, getting the new team and facilities in place in readiness for opening day.”