The eco-friendly 6,650 sq ft building was commissioned by The Monastery of St Francis & Gorton Trust, the charity that saved and restored the existing Grade II* buildings and is now responsible for the upkeep of this heritage asset. The project, which took 12 months to complete, was made possible by a National Lottery grant of almost £2million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), together with a £1million donation from the Stoller Charitable Trust.
Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the new building provides flexible, purpose-designed and carbon-neutral space, allowing the Trust to expand and extend its facilities and projects for the local community and general visitors, while continuing to host corporate and private events.
This new front wing sits on the footprint of an original building that was taken down in the 1960s. It has been carefully designed by Eco Arc, an ecological architecture practice based in Kendal, Cumbria so the modern building seamlessly connects to the 150 year-old E.W. Pugin-designed former Church and Friary. Specialist Manchester-based contractor HH Smith & Sons Ltd worked alongside project managers, Buro Four to deliver the building on time and to budget.
Elaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the Monastery Trust said: “This is a tremendously exciting day for us. This new building blends beautifully with the church and friary and we are delighted with the result. We also love how it is flooded with light, making this a fantastic space for both community and corporate events.
“This has been the biggest investment we have made in the building since we completed the major £6.5 million restoration work to save the Monastery ten years ago and it’s wonderful to see it finished. We couldn’t have achieved this without the generous support of National Lottery players, Sir Norman Stoller and Trustees of the Stoller Charitable Trust and other donors. This summer will be offering a full programme of community activities, and for the first time, we’re able to realise our long-held ambition to ‘Open Every Day for Everyone’.”
Nathan Lee, Head of HLF North West, said: “We’re delighted to see the new Welcome Wing at Gorton Monastery open its doors to the public and hugely grateful to the National Lottery players who have made this possible. Thanks to HLF support, the Monastery Trust has been able to carry out urgent conservation work and create this fantastic new space for the local community, celebrating the monastery’s history and making it sustainable for the future.”