Preparatory work for the next phase of development at Lancaster Castle started on site at the beginning of September and the careful demolition of the Visitors Building is almost complete.
Scaffolding is now being erected to allow for the painstaking removal of stone to the rear curtain wall so that this can be lowered to its original height. Once completed, this work will allow for a much better view of Lancaster Priory from inside the Castle, restoring historic sightlines and reinforcing the link between these two important and iconic landmarks.
The removal of the Prison Visitors Centre will reveal the historic Kitchen Courtyard, the Male Felons and Kings Evidence Towers and the former Prison Hospital building, allowing these historic buildings to be brought back into use.
Commenting on the progress of the works to date, Duchy Head of Project Management Graeme Chalk said: “This is a really exciting development which will result in much greater public open space and reveal many of the Castle’s historic buildings which have been hidden from view for generations. We believe that we have a good team of dedicated and skilled craftsmen who can deliver this next phase to the required quality standard and with minimal disruption to local residents and visitors.”
The project is scheduled for completion in June 2019 and in the interim the shop and tour guide ticket desk have been moved to the ground floor of A-Wing. Here visitors can also view a standing exhibition of prison life in a number of the cells while they are waiting to start the tour.
“We know that some visitors will be disappointed that there is no permanent café facility at the Castle for the moment,” added Mr Chalk, “but we hope that this temporary inconvenience will be worth the wait when the new shop, café/restaurant and conference suite is opened in 2019.”
The Duchy of Lancaster has appointed MC Construction as lead developer for the scheme which was designed by architectural practice BDP. Quantity surveyors Appleyard and Trew are also key members of the project team, with other specialist sub-contractors and heritage partners brought in for specific tasks as the project progresses.
MC Construction managing director David Lowe said: “We are delighted to be appointed for this second phase of the Castle’s restoration. We have extensive experience of working on heritage projects and we are thrilled to be involved again as the main contractor for such a prestigious client.”