Work is gathering pace on the long-awaited restoration of the historic castle and gardens near Penrith in Cumbria with publication of a brief for a £6.6m specialist construction contract.
The appointed contractor will be responsible for the repair and renovation of the derelict castle and associated stable block in order to make them safe prior to opening the site to the public.
Last month, Andrew Mercer, chief executive of the East of England Agricultural Society, pioneer of the East of England Showground, was named commercial director for Lowther Castle.
The 3,500-acre Lowther Park has been the seat of the Lowther family, the Earls of Lonsdale, for 800 years. The castle was last inhabited in 1936 by the 5th Earl who died in 1944 without a direct heir. Its contents were sold, and, when no further use could be found for it, it was partly demolished in 1957. It has never been open to the public. The gardens were open for one season in 1936 but then overplanted with timber and left largely undisturbed.
In 2009, the NWDA approved plans for a £9m project to create a major new visitor attraction. The NWDA will invest £7m and the European Regional Development Fund £1.9m, with additional funding from the Lowther Estate Trust, which has leased Lowther Castle and Gardens for a peppercorn rent to a new independent charity, the Lowther Castle and Gardens Trust.
The design team includes architects Geoff Rich and Miriam Kelly, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, garden and landscape architect Dominic Cole, structural engineers Gifford, M&E consultants Ove Arup and quantity surveyor Turner & Townsend.
Expressions of interest for the renovation contract must be made by 22 September. Selected candidates will be invited to submit detailed tenders in mid November.
- See http://www.transforminglowther.co.uk/