An official ceremony to mark the start of construction work on York Minster’s new Centre of Excellence for Heritage Craft Skills and Estate Management was held at the Minster yesterday.
The ceremony, which took place in the grounds of what will become The Heritage Quad, was attended by the Dean of York, the Very Revd Dominic Barrington, and Andy Gatenby, Managing Director of Simpson, the specialist heritage contractor delivering the works.
The first-of-its-kind project will see the creation of a world-class campus facility for research, education and training in the traditional craft skills required to preserve and maintain the Minster for future generations. It will also establish the Minster as an international example of best practice in managing complex heritage estates.
The Centre of Excellence includes the development of two sites, The Heritage Quad and The Works and Technology Hub. They will provide new facilities for craftspeople, including York Minsters stonemasons, and house and deliver training in modern techniques and processes to apprentices and students from across the world, working with cutting edge digital technology.
Existing buildings within the Precinct will also be sustainably reordered, repurposed, and renewed to provide new workspace and associated facilities, enable greater engagement and interaction with the public around key crafts and trades, and allow improved links with education.
The Centre of Excellence is expected to be completed in summer 2024. It’s a key component of the York Minster Precinct Neighbourhood Plan which sets out a policy-led approach to creating a sustainable future for the Minster and its seven hectare estate.
The Very Revd Dominic Barrington, Dean of York, said: “Start on site at the Centre of Excellence is a significant milestone in our journey to establish the Precinct as a leading destination for preserving and maintaining heritage craft skills. It also marks an important moment of our Neighbourhood Plan, which is the biggest programme of planned works at York Minster and its Precinct in 150 years. We’re incredibly excited to start watching the new sites and facilities become a reality over the next year.”
Andy Gatenby, Managing Director of Simpson, added: “As a proud-York based Construction company, delivering a project such as York Minster’s Centre of Excellence is a huge honour, as we’re not only helping to create exceptional new buildings and workspaces in the area, but it’ll also bring additional benefits, including preserving and developing ancient craft skills. We’re proud to be playing a role in maintaining York Minster and its Precinct for future generations.”
The funding for the Centre is being co-ordinated by the York Minster Fund, which recently announced a campaign to raise an additional £4m to support the completion of the project.
Neil Sanderson, Director of the York Minster Fund, commented: “The sustainable benefits the Centre of Excellence will deliver long term are far reaching, not only financially, but for maintaining heritage skills at York Minster, the heritage community, and the wider city, so we’re incredibly excited to mark its start on site.
“Like many construction projects, we’ve encountered numerous challenges since we began our journey in 2018 through rising costs and supply chain issues, so we still have a long way to go. We’re therefore seeking further funding and donations to ensure this important project can be delivered on schedule, and we are grateful of the support we’ve had so far.”
The York Minster Neighbourhood Plan is ambitious masterplan to secure a sustainable future for York Minster. Formally adopted by City of York Council last year, its delivery will signal the largest planned programme of works at the Minster and its surrounding Precinct since the Victorian era. It recently won a major award from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) for Planning Excellence.
For more information on the Centre of Excellence or to donate please, visit: https://yorkminster.org/discover/centre-of-excellence-for-heritage-craft-skills-and-estate-management/.
Pledges can also be made by emailing the York Minster Fund at email@example.com.