We marked a major milestone for our History Centre with a groundbreaking ceremony in Tavistock Place.
Councillor Sam Davey, Deputy Lord Mayor for Plymouth put the first spade in the ground as part of the official ceremony, which was attended by representatives from the Council, construction firm Willmott Dixon and other key partners and stakeholders.
Plymouth City Council Leader, Ian Bowyer said: “This is another exciting moment for the History Centre which follows hot on the heels of a number of key milestones that were achieved by the project team in 2016. After so much hard work to get the Museum, Library and St Luke’s Church buildings emptied last year it’s a huge feather in everyone’s cap that we’re breaking ground on schedule and moving into a new and very important phase for the project – a project that will transform this part of the city and give Plymouth the cultural quarter it deserves.”
Over the next few weeks people will start to see some very visible changes. The Museum, Central Library and St Luke’s Church buildings and the section of Tavistock Place in between them will become a construction site. Hoardings and scaffolding will be installed and a series of preparatory works will be undertaken to prepare the area for construction work.
Later in the spring some buildings to the rear of the Library will be demolished, paving the way for the creation of a new extension which will eventually house the collections from the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, South West Film and Television Archive and South West Image Bank. The Museum and Library, currently two separate grade II listed Edwardian buildings, will become one. St Luke’s Church will undergo extensive renovation to turn it into a high quality exhibition and events space.
Councillor Glenn Jordan, Cabinet Member for Culture said: “The History Centre is a fantastic scheme that will really raise the bar for Plymouth’s heritage and cultural offer. Bringing the archive collections on to the same site as the Museum’s and combining this with new galleries, research facilities, exhibitions and events will enable us to create a top class visitor experience for many different audiences. I’m very excited to see how the development now progresses.”
Construction work on the History Centre is due to complete in summer 2019. The internal fit out of the buildings will then take place. The entire site will be open by spring 2020 as part of the city’s Mayflower 400 commemorations. The project is expected to cost around £34m and has already secured funding from the Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and the Wolfson Foundation.
John Boughton, Deputy Managing Director, Wilmott Dixon said: “The History Centre is much more than a construction project – it’s an opportunity to bring Plymouth’s past into the present and create a legacy for the future. We will ensure our work benefits the Plymouth economy by using local companies, employment and apprentices. We are very excited to be involved in this landmark project that supports and preserves Plymouth’s history and culture for new generations as well as providing an iconic attraction for visitors.”
Monthly hard hat tours of the History Centre construction site will begin at the end of March. The tours are free but places are limited and must be booked in advance. For full details visit the What’s On section of www.plymhearts.org
To stay up to date with History Centre developments visit www.plymouth.gov.uk/loveourpast, sign up for the newsletter or follow the project on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.