10 million ‘Thank yous’ and a giant leap forward for Footprint
On 23rd March 2016, staff at Bath Abbey offices received the eagerly-awaited decision of the Round Two application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
– and it was just what they were hoping and praying for: the Abbey had been successful in unlocking a grant of £10.7million for the Footprint project!
Although the Abbey’s official announcement of this good news was embargoed until 9th May due to the elections, staff at the Abbey quietly celebrated and started to put in motion the next steps to make this ambitious and transformative project a reality. The success of the application demonstrates the HLF’s confidence in Bath Abbey’s plans and belief that a high-quality project will be delivered.
Footprint will first and foremost remedy the collapsing floor within the Abbey, but has provided an exceptional opportunity for the Abbey to modernise and diversify, and to better meet the ever-increasing demands and needs of the community and city it has faithfully served for hundreds of years. It is, however, not just about preserving an old building – Footprint will also see this medieval stone masterpiece embrace state-of-the-art technology as an eco-friendly, hydrothermal heating system using the energy from Bath’s natural hot spring water is installed – something for which there is currently no precedent. In addition, thanks to the HLF’s grant, the Abbey’s wider vision will be realised - stunning modern facilities that will benefit the hundreds of thousands of visitors, be they locals or tourists, who enjoy the Abbey every year. In this UNESCO World Heritage City, where above-ground space is virtually impossible to find, unused and new underground vaults will house a Discovery Centre, a learning centre, meeting rooms, toilets and other facilities and Kingston Buildings, currently housing the offices, will be transformed into an administrative hub and a Song School for the Abbey’s choirs and Schools Singing Programme, which currently reaches over 1,000 children every week.
Charles Curnock, Project Director, commented “We are enormously grateful to the HLF for this wonderful grant – the project will now definitely go ahead! The total project cost of £19.3 million is now firmly within our sights – but there is still much left to raise, so we mustn’t underestimate the effort that will be needed for the final push. We are hugely grateful to everyone who has contributed to our fundraising thus far and hope very much that they, and others, will continue to support Footprint”.
Whilst an enormous amount has been going on behind the scenes, later this year the general public will be able to see the first tangible signs of enabling works for Footprint with excavations happening outside the Abbey.