North East company, Meldrum Construction Services Limited, has been awarded a £12m contract to restore 900-year-old Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland to its original Georgian Gothic opulence on behalf of regional charity, Auckland Castle Trust (ACT).
The contract includes an extension to Auckland Castle’s Scotland Wing, designed by award-winning Niall McLaughlin architects, which is being constructed by Meldrum in partnership with Turner & Townsend, to house a new Faith Museum, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Jerusalem Trust. The lead architect on all work within the Castle complex is Purcell.
Meldrum, which has an annual turnover of around £30m, specialises in Grade I and Grade II listed buildings, with previous contracts including The Bruce Building, and St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle and the Sunderland Empire Theatre.
Dave Meldrum, Managing Director, Meldrum Construction Services Ltd, said: “We are delighted to have won this prestigious contract and are now looking at ways in which we can involve the local community and maximise the opportunities we can offer them while working in Bishop Auckland.”
Since being founded in 2001 the company has employed more than 120 trainees and apprentices and is fully committed to supporting ACT’s vision of utilising local talent and offering further opportunities for skills development.
Around half of Meldrum’s current 190 employees, including time-served carpenters, bricklayers, welder/fabricators, ground workers, plant operators and electricians, will be involved in the Auckland Castle project, with a minimum of 60 expected to be on site at any one time.
The restoration of Auckland Castle is being supported by National Lottery players through a £11.4m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), as well as Sir James Knott Trust, The Charles Hayward Foundation, The Headley Trust, The Linbury Trust, The Rothschild Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust and the Overstone Fund.
Meldrum will be working alongside overall project managers, Turner & Townsend and lead consultant and conservation accredited architects, Purcell, together with Auckland Castle Trust’s Curatorial Team, to repair, restore and re-present the Grade I listed building in a way that better tells the story of its former residents, the Prince Bishops of Durham.
Geoff Brown, Area Manager for Turner & Townsend, said: “The restoration of Auckland Castle is a significant project for us, incorporating both a wide range of repairs, replacements and redecoration to the existing castle, and the construction of an extension to create contemporary gallery space. We will be working closely with Meldrum, Purcell and Auckland Castle Trust’s Curatorial Team to ensure this is all carried out in-keeping with the historic nature of the building, as well as modern regulations.”
Purcell, which has 15 offices across the UK, as well as sites in Asia Pacific and Australia, has already worked on a number of similar projects, including the restoration of Kensington Palace, Tower Bridge and the National Maritime Museum.
Dr Alexander Holton, Associate, Purcell, said: ”Purcell is immensely proud to be part of one of the most ambitious and exciting heritage projects that has taken place in the North East for decades. Through the vision of the Auckland Castle Trust, and its Chairman, Jonathan Ruffer, the site will be transformed into a world-class visitor destination that will continue to act as a platform for social and economic regeneration throughout County Durham and beyond.”
The restoration of Auckland Castle and creation of the new Faith Museum forms part of a wider £70m programme by Auckland Castle Trust, designed to revitalise Bishop Auckland, create opportunities for training and skills development and boost the local economy.