Arts & Culture
Completion of two prestigious projects in Bishop Auckland
July 25, 2021
Meldrum Construction Services Ltd were appointed as main contractor in 2017 to deliver the highly contested contract for the conservation and extension of Auckland Castle as part of The Auckland Project visitor destination.
The 900-year-old castle was carefully restored to its former splendour between 2016-2019, with Meldrum’s work at the Castle including removing all non-historic elements from the building, restoring windows, repairing and re-painting all of the rooms and installing new power outlets and lighting. A Faith Museum is also being developed, housed in the Castle’s existing Scotland Wing and extending beyond with the newly constructed section, which Meldrum has now completed. The stone used for the Faith Museum extension was sourced from Cap Crag in Northumberland to ensure it was in keeping with that of the main Castle building.
The work involved was the mastermind of local philanthropist, Jonathan Ruffer, Founder and Trustee of The Auckland Project. As part of the regeneration of the Town the charity is developing a vibrant, heritage led visitor destination in Bishop Auckland, which includes a number of museums, galleries, gardens, parkland and the Castle itself.
Dave Meldrum, CEO of Meldrum Group said: “Working with Jonathan to help him achieve his vision has been a fantastic experience. I am immensely proud of the quality of the workmanship we have delivered at the Castle and Faith Museum, working sympathetically with the original Castle features and materials. It is world class and I could not be more honoured to have been involved in these historical projects.
He continued: The preservation of our heritage is something I am particularly passionate about; I think it is imperative we protect and preserve it for future generations to enjoy and to learn from.”
Following a successful start at the Castle, Meldrum also secured the eagerly anticipated Spanish Gallery project just metres from the Castle in Bishop Auckland’s Market Place. The Gallery, which includes 15 exhibition areas, a restaurant, retail area and conference suite, will be the first museum in the UK dedicated to Spanish Art. The M&E works provided by Meldrum Building Services were complex as strict controls of the internal environment are required. Factors such as temperature, moisture and light require a painstaking attention to detail to ensure the correct systems were designed and installed.
The project at Bishop Auckland is quite unlike any other – the conservation of a Bishop’s Palace, a custom-built extension of the castle to hold ten new gallery spaces, and the creation of an international art gallery from a high-status bank built 150 years ago in the style of John Ruskin’s love of Venice.
Jonathan Ruffer, philanthropist and founder of The Auckland Project, said: “We had no idea of what sort of builder would be appropriate – it was a one-off for us, and would be for the successful applicant, too. We went local, we went for a business which had aspirations to break into this area of work – in short, we went with Meldrum. We started from the same place as they did – knowing little of what was necessary – but our drive for the best, and Meldrum’s understanding of the trade eventually came together with something wonderful.”
Meldrum has now handed over the Faith Museum, as well as the exciting new Spanish Gallery.
The Auckland Project is making final preparations in order to be able to welcome guests back to Auckland Castle from 3 July 2021, in line with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. The Spanish Gallery will open for the first time in October this year, and the Faith Museum is in development.