Green light for major Lincoln Castle revamp

A multi-million pound project to refurbish Lincoln Castle has been given the green light after winning a £12 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The plans include a new vault to showcase Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest, complete with a cinema space as well as a new cafe and shop on site.

Both prison buildings will be refurbished with the previously closed Victorian male prison being opened to the public for the first time in many years.

The castle walls will be repaired with a complete wall walk circuit created for the first time, as well as improved disabled access throughout the facilities.

Once the project is completed, Lincolnshire County Council plans to scrap the entrance fees through the East and West gates during daylight hours as well.

The council believes this will change the way that pedestrians move about in the area, bringing increased footfall to neighbouring businesses.

This could lead to a 29-55% increase in tourism to Lincoln, giving a £36-68 million boost for the tourism economy and around 600-1,100 new jobs.

It is intended the Lincoln Castle Revealed project will be completed by the time of Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary, before April 2015.

In order to repair damage caused by the winters of 09/10 and 10/11, repairs have already begun on the South Curtain wall.

In addition, construction is underway on a new Heritage Skills Centre with European and regional funding and is due for completion in September.

After the 2012 Christmas Market, the whole castle prison complex will close and work will begin on its refurbishment and construction will start on the new Magna Carta Pavilion.

The project cost has been estimated at £19.9 million, including £12 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £5.2 million from Lincolnshire County Council and a £1.1 million request has been made for European funding.

The remaining £1.6 million would be raised through further fundraising and a charity called the Historic Lincoln Trust has been formed to do this.

Councillor Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “The project will make Lincoln Castle one of the country’s top historic attractions, attracting thousands more visitors.

“As many visitors to Lincoln stay in rural Lincolnshire, we would expect these economic benefits to be felt across the county.

“Having committed 10 years of hard work and more than £5 million to this project, we’re delighted that the HLF has given us such a generous grant and we’re extremely grateful for their support.

“Not only are we ensuring that this important local landmark is kept in good condition for future generations, we’re writing new pages in the castle’s history.”

Illustrations: Joanne Gibson