Newcastle’s Medieval ‘Black Gate’ brought back to life thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund investment

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has today[5th October 2011]  awarded a confirmed grant of £1.4m to The Heart of the City Partnership for an exciting restoration project.  Old Newcastle: ‘Where the Story Begins’.

HLF’s investment will completely revitalise the City’s 13th-century, Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade I listed ‘Black Gate’, bringing this currently vacant building back into public use as a fully accessible heritage, education and community resource.

The project will reconnect the striking Black Gate with its medieval neighbours, the Castle Keep and Cathedral Church of St Nicholas, creating a heritage hub in the heart of the city. New innovative digital exhibitions and learning activities will help tell the story of the remarkable history of Newcastle and the people who lived there.

Once completed, the project will recruit local volunteers to help with delivering the vast events and activities on offer, encouraging people to get hands on experience. Valuable training and work placement opportunities will also be offered as part of the project to students studying heritage, tourism and learning. They will be able to get first-hand experience with this heritage gem and learn about the creative ways that the Heart of the City Partnership are bringing it into the 21st-century whilst conserving the medieval character of this important place.

Built by Henry III in the mid-13th century as a major addition to the defences of the royal fortress in Newcastle, the Black Gate used the latest thinking on military defence and has subsequently had an interesting and varied history both as a defensive building, with additional defences added during the Civil War, then later as merchant’s residence which, in the 19th century, became a slum tenement.

Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the North East, Ivor Crowther said:

“The Black Gate represents the fascinating medieval history of Newcastle and its residents. This project will bring this historic place back to life and give it back to the local community. This is the perfect way to spend Lottery money – combining ancient history with new technology – ensuring everyone can learn from and enjoy our unique heritage.”

Chi Onwurah is the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, said:

“The city of Newcastle has a long history of work, faith and armed service.  By restoring the Black Gate to its place in Newcastle’s medieval heart, this Heritage Lottery Fund grant will help connect the Newcastle of the 21st Century with that of the 13th.  In addition by supporting local work placements and students, volunteers and tourists, the funding will help ensure the city’s great heritage is a living and working part our economy.”

Newcastle City Council’s Cabinet Member for Quality of Life, Councillor Henri Murison said:

“This is fantastic news for the city and the Old Newcastle Partnership, and means not just preservation of our heritage, but real benefits for the city’s economy and jobs. Opening up these treasures will bring even more people to our city.”

Chair of the Old Newcastle partnership and The Dean of Newcastle Chris Dalliston said:

“This award is good news not just for the project but the whole city. It not only represents a rediscovery of our roots and our historic identity but in bringing alive the past can make a rich contribution to the present.”

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