Richmondshire Building Preservation Trust has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for Richmond’s Old Grammar School Project.
Development funding of £155,000 has been awarded to help the trust progress plans towards applying for a full grant at a later date.
This National Lottery award is supported by a further £25,000 awarded from the Architectural Heritage Fund.
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The HLF funding was originally granted to Richmondshire Community and Voluntary Action (RCVA), but because of RCVA’s loss of day-to-day funding it approached RBPT earlier this year and asked them to take over the project. Following discussions, the HLF has agreed to transfer the grant to the RBPT.
The project aims to protect and conserve the heritage of Richmond’s 19th century former Grammar School, a Grade II listed building, which has been unused since 2011.
North Yorkshire County Council, which owned the building when it was a school, has been concerned throughout that it should be made available for community use.
New purposes for the building have been identified to provide community uses supported by commercial enterprises. Uses under consideration are a small independent hostel; community offices; a multi-use community hall; function room; second-hand bookshop and café.
The work required during Phase One will take around 18-months and will include testing the viability of these potential uses and that of the whole project.
The project will be led by a group of RBPT trustees and project director, Judith Bromfield.
Advertisements have now been placed for a project manager to take forward the plans that have so far been put in place.
The Old Grammar School is an iconic landmark in Richmond, which has geographical and heritage links with Richmond Station, both having as their architect George Townsend Andrews of York.
The building holds a special meaning for the many boys who attended the grammar school, and later for boys and girls, who spent their first year as pupils of Richmond Comprehensive at what became known as ‘Lower School’.
James Gravenor, a trustee of RBPT and chair of the Old Grammar School committee said: “Richmond School has played a major part in the history of the “Original” Richmond.
“It has educated artists, archbishops, admirals, authors and adventurers and is a special building in a wonderful location. We are grateful for the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and of course those who purchase lottery tickets, the Architectural Heritage Fund, Richmondshire District Council and North Yorkshire County Council for enabling us to come forward with a scheme to preserve this building and to bring it back to life for the benefit of the residents of and visitors to Richmond, the cultural capital of the Dales”.
If the RBPT is successful in receiving second round funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Richmondshire District Council will hand over the building to the Trust to carry out the development work and take responsibility for the building.
Richmondshire District Council leader Yvonne Peacock said: “We are delighted to be able to support this project by gifting RBPT the old Lower School Building.
“We at the District Council believe that this is a fantastic opportunity to preserve this important local building and put it to community use next to the new council offices.
“The Building Preservation Trust have a proven track record of delivering local projects and we are confident that they will provide a great new facility for the public.
The county council sold the whole site, which included the newer building, to the district council to create new offices.
As the newer building was large enough for their requirements this has left this beautiful Victorian building without a purpose.
County Councillor Stuart Parsons, local member for Richmond said: “We have been determined that this landmark building should be put to use for the benefit of communities in Richmond and the surrounding area.
“We are transforming the services we deliver in order to strengthen communities to help themselves and the creation of sustainable community resources like the Old Grammar School is key to that ambition.
“For this reason I totally support the plans that the trust has put forward.”