Banks Group grant opens doors for new Durham Cathedral foyer

November 12, 2012 | Browney Lane News

Work on the creation of Durham Cathedral’s new Undercroft Foyer has been completed with the help of a five-figure donation from a locally-based family business.

The £10,000 grant from the Banks Group via its Banks Community Fund, which is administered in partnership with the County Durham Community Foundation, has paid for the installation of fully automated doors between the new Foyer and the Cathedral’s Restaurant.

The doors complement the remodelled steps into the Undercroft itself, which have in turn made space for a newly installed hoist lift that provides access to both the new Cathedral Shop and the Restaurant.

The new Shop, which is now open to the public and in which gifts and books are displayed in the transformed medieval vaults, will be officially opened by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson at 9.30am on Saturday 3 November.  All customers will receive a 10% discount on this day.

The work has been carried out as part of the Open Treasure project, which is a major development that is transforming the way in which the Cathedral buildings are experienced, understood and used, both as working buildings and to the benefit of those who visit.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, says: “As a Durham-based business, we’re very pleased to be supporting the Open Treasure project, and to be contributing to the continuing evolution of one of the UK’s true landmark buildings.

“Durham Cathedral plays a huge role in the life of the city, and the impressive work that has been undertaken here will make it even more accessible to everyone visiting these magnificent buildings.” 

Gaye Kirby, Head of Development at Durham Cathedral, adds: “We are delighted that the Banks Community Fund has chosen to support the Cathedral’s Open Treasure project in this way.   Making spaces physically accessible wherever possible is a major focus of the project as we look to transform the way visitors can enjoy the Cathedral and gain inspiration from it.” 

The new Shop and Accessible Foyer were designed by Purcell with Chris Cotton as lead architect and Simpsons of York as the contractor.  The Cathedral’s own works staff, comprising specialists that carry out ongoing conservation and maintenance work around the Cathedral, did enabling work ahead of Simpsons coming on site and have created components of the shop fittings.  

Future phases of the project include the creation of world class exhibition spaces in some of the Claustral buildings, including The Great Kitchen.  The next phase of Open Treasure has received a stage one pass for £3.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, this means that HLF supports the project in principle and will welcome a more detailed application for the amount proposed.  

For more information on Open Treasure see or contact Gaye Kirby, Head of Development, at Durham Cathedral

Projects, community groups, or organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.

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