The restoration of one of Coventry’s most important historic buildings will convert it to a music venue.
Historic Coventry Trust is undertaking an ambitious project to restore and open the Grade II* ListedRegency-style Drapers’ Hall in Bayley Lane, in the city’s Cathedral Quarter, as a music performance and education venue.
The Trust has been awarded £1 million by Arts Council England to progress the project with the support of The Prince’s Foundation.
The aim is to restore the historic building and its magnificent interiors to their former glory and to adapt the building for professional classical music performance and music education facilities for young people.
The Prince’s Foundation will project manage the sensitive restoration and provide specialist architectural design services.
The plan is for the venue to be opened in 2020, in time for the city’s tenure as UK City of Culture the following year and comes just days after it was revealed that the Trust’s Charterhouse project has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Drapers’ Hall was built in the classical style in 1832, on the site of earlier halls owned by the important Company of Drapers.
The association of the Drapers with this area of Coventry goes back to Coventry’s late medieval heyday when it was the fourth largest city in the country, its wealth based on the production of highly-prized wool and woollen cloth.
Ian Harrabin, of Historic Coventry Trust, is delighted to have the support of The Prince’s Foundation: “This is great news for the Drapers’ Hall project and for Coventry as a whole.
“The support from both Arts Council England and The Prince’s Foundation is a massive boost to Drapers’ Hall but it goes beyond that.
“The exemplary background and expert skills of The Prince’s Foundation will do this magnificent building the justice it deserves.
“Drapers’ Hall is a real gem and has lain empty for decades. The council has done a great job in keeping it in repair, but any building is at risk if it isn’t used.
“It is the use of the building that makes the project so exciting. It’s the chance to bring it back to its original use as a performance space, and also as a place for training Coventry’s musicians of tomorrow. The ballroom built for the city’s Georgian elite will be restored for everyone.”
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, said that it was great news and would add to the economic growth of the city.
He added: “This is another indication of Coventry’s growing reputation. It’s brilliant that there is such momentum building already towards 2021. It’s such a fine building with a fascinating history.
“To see it brought back into use – particularly as a performance space – will be great for our musicians of tomorrow and for the ongoing regeneration of the city centre.”
Peter Knott, Area Director of Arts Council England, added: “We are delighted to be supporting this project, helping restore an iconic building to create a hub for music, culture and education in the centre of Coventry.
“As the city gears up to host UK City of Culture 2021, a venue such as this becomes a real focal point and will provide a fantastic opportunity for Coventry to showcase its wealth of skills and talents.”