With construction well underway, new dates have now been announced for the launch of The Auckland Project’s purpose-built welcome centre, Auckland Tower, and the re-opening of 900 year-old Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland.
Auckland Castle, once a private palace for the Prince Bishops of Durham, will re-open to the public in spring 2019, following a multi-million pound conservation programme to recapture its former Georgian Gothic grandeur.
It had originally been hoped that this extensive work would be complete in time for Christmas, however the complexities of working with an ancient structure and the ongoing discovery of hidden historic features has led to a small adjustment in the timescales.
The conservation of Auckland Castle is supported by a £11.4m grant from National Lottery
Players via the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as the Heritage Conservation Trust, 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
Work at the Castle is currently being carried out by Gateshead-based Meldrum Construction
Services Ltd, with the site due to be handed back to The Auckland Project in early 2019.
From there, the charity’s Curatorial Team will work alongside expert craftspeople to dress
the space, using sumptuous fabrics and furnishings to reflect its former Georgian Gothic
opulence and hanging more than 50 artworks, including Zurbarán’s Jacob and His Twelve
Sons, which have been housed at the Castle for more than 250 years.
Auckland Tower, which will serve as the welcome centre for the wider Auckland Project
visitor destination will open on Saturday, 20 October 2018.
Before that, there will be two chances to take a sneak peek inside the unique site, with an
Auckland Tower Town Update event on Saturday, 21 July 2018 and a special community
event on Saturday, 29 September 2018.
It was previously expected that the Tower would be complete in time for July’s event,
however the complexity of the structure and impact of the weather has meant work will now
be ongoing into the autumn, as The Auckland Project’s Property Director, Chris Blacklock
Work on Auckland Tower, supported by Headley Trust, began in February 2017, following
the appointment of Bishop Auckland building and engineering firm, VEST Construction, as
the main contractor.
The building’s unusual, modern design by award-winning architects Niall McLaughlin,
reflects that of a great wooden siege engine, standing proudly against the walls of Auckland
Castle and effectively opening up the former private palace for the Prince Bishops of
Durham by creating a more direct link between it and the town.
Once complete Auckland Tower will serve as a starting point for visitors to Auckland Castle
and all of The Auckland Project’s forthcoming attractions, including the Spanish Gallery,
Walled Garden and Faith Museum, with a 15m high viewing platform offering unrivalled
views across the destination, Bishop Auckland and the wider region beyond.
Visitors will have their first opportunity to venture into Auckland Tower with the Town Update
event for Bishop Auckland residents running from 10am to 3pm on Saturday, 21 July. This
includes a chance to learn more about the building’s unique design and the construction
work in progress, as well as hear what the tower will be used for and how to get involved
with The Auckland Project as a whole.
A special community event at Auckland Tower will also be available on a drop in basis to
coincide with Bishop Auckland Town Council’s Produce and Horticultural Show and Bishop
Auckland Town Team’s Celebrating Together event on Saturday, 29 September 2018.
The official launch of Auckland Tower will take place on Saturday, 20 October 2018, with a
day of activities still to be announced.
For more information visit aucklandproject.org or by search Auckland Project on Facebook