Ambitious vision for Berwick Barracks moves closer with £4.2 million grant

English Heritage has been awarded £4.2 million for a project aimed at transforming Berwick Barracks.

Friday, 11th March 2022, 10:30 pm
Updated Saturday, 12th March 2022, 6:54 am

The funding from the government’s Culture Investment Fund aims to pave the way to turn an ambitious vision into reality.

Kate Mavor, chief executive of English Heritage, which runs Berwick Barracks, said: “This major grant will help to breathe life into Berwick Barracks, unlocking and bringing back into use empty buildings and spaces within this immense site, right in the heart of Berwick town.

“Our Living Barracks project is incredibly exciting – saving an important historic site, providing badly needed employment and investment, and creating a new cultural, residential and commercial space for Berwick.

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Berwick Barracks.

“All the partners involved in delivering this project are delighted at this resounding vote of confidence in it and we’d like to thank the Government for its support.”

The English Heritage Trust, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers Trustees, the Maltings (Berwick) Trust, Northumberland County Council, Museums Northumberland and the Berwick Barracks Heritage Trust have been working on plans over the last five years.

Last year, proposals to update and improve exhibition, gallery and cultural space on the site were revealed.

The county council would work to relocate the Berwick Archives to the site – including new research rooms – and studio spaces would be developed for local artists.

Improvements would also be made to the parade ground to allow it to continue to play an active role in the life of the town, both through existing events such as the Minden Day Parade and local festivals and also through a wider public programme of events.

A café or restaurant would be located within the Officers Mess, and a shop within the Gatehouse, and the West Block and Clock Block would be returned to residential use.

The barracks were constructed by the British Government between 1717 and 1721, following the fighting there during the Jacobite rising of 1715.

Elsewhere, North Tyneside Council has been awarded £499,000 to carry out urgent repairs at Segedunum Roman Fort.

The money will pay for roof repairs, the replacement of the fort’s air handling system, a new lift and an upgrade to the emergency lighting system.

North Tyneside’s mayor Norma Redfearn said: “This funding for essential repairs at Segedunum will hopefully set us on the road for the wider development of the World Heritage Site, which we are proud to have in Wallsend.

“MEND funding will ensure that Segedunum becomes even more welcoming for visitors and, as we develop our work through the Hadrian’s Wall Partnership, we hope to see more investment coming into the site to make this a truly exciting offer for visitors from across the region and beyond.”

Nearly £10 million has been awarded to the North East through the government’s Cultural Investment Fund.

It comes from a national £48 million fund to support museums, galleries, libraries and other cultural organisations and venues across the country.

The aim is to improve people’s access to the arts, safeguard cultural assets for future generations, and power economic growth through culture.

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “I want to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, has access to fantastic culture on their doorstep.

“As today’s grants demonstrate, the North East has centuries of rich history – stretching back to the Roman period and long before.

"With the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall and the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels, this is a bumper year for North East heritage and culture.

"The £10 million of cultural funding we are announcing today will help to make sure that it can be enjoyed by even more people, and safeguard it for generations to come.”

Last month 10 places in the North East including Hartlepool, Darlington and North Tyneside were designated as Levelling Up For Culture Places which will be prioritised for funding from Arts Council England.

Additionally, the North East has previously benefited from nearly £50 million in cultural funding through the Culture Recovery Fund, which was designed to help arts organisations through the pandemic.