Monastery names contractor on £3m Welcome Wing

The Monastery of St Francis & Gorton Trust, the charity that owns the grade two-listed former church and friary in East Manchester, has appointed HH Smith & Sons to build a 6,600 sq ft extension.

Building and restoration work is due to start next month on the eco-friendly Welcome Wing, to be built on the front of the 150-year old buildings on the footprint of an original building demolished in the 1960s.

Cumbrian architecture practice Eco Arc designed the extension.

The Welcome Wing will provide additional and flexible space that will include a new reception area, space for functions, exhibition materials and a community space with an education room as well as health and wellbeing facilities. Alongside the new-build the Trust will continue the work begun in 2005, to restore and conserve important artefacts and features within the Great Nave including areas around the altar and reredos, the Lady Altar, plus original paint and stencil schemes, floor tiles and stone carvings.

The extension and restoration work is funded by a £2m Heritage Lottery grant, and £1m from the Stoller Charitable Trust.

Other grants and donations have been received from The World Monuments Fund and Garfield Weston, plus the Warburg Trust, J Paul Getty Trust, Manchester Guardian Society Charitable Trust, the Duchy of Lancaster and John Kennedy, as well as donations by the general public and visitors.

Building work is expected to be completed this year, and it is anticipated that the Welcome Wing will open to the public early in 2017.

HH Smith & Sons will work alongside a professional team managed by project manager Buro Four.

Elaine Griffiths, chief executive of the Monastery Trust, said: “HH Smith is a Manchester-based company and local employer with an outstanding track record. We are very impressed with their experience and knowledge, and their approach and values mirror ours. This is the biggest investment we have made in the building since we completed the major £6.5m restoration work to save the Monastery in 2007. We believe we have found the right partner to deliver our much anticipated Welcome Wing and realise our long-held ambition to ‘Open Every Day for Everyone’. We will remain open for business as usual and will continue to hold our free open days, so visitors and clients can view the work in progress.”

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