Local MP Robin Walker welcomed his ministerial colleague John Glen – Culture, Heritage and Tourism Minister – to the city on Thursday (4th January) to tour some of Worcester’s most iconic buildings and discuss the opportunities created by the city’s world-class heritage and culture scene.
The visit began with a tour of The Hive, with the Minister and the Head of his Libraries Taskforce meeting representatives from library services and the University of Worcester to discuss the innovative collaboration between the local authority and the University, and also included a tour of the award-winning Worcestershire archives and archaeology service. They discussed how the city, county and University working together had delivered top quality facilities, increased visitor numbers and lending of books whilst keeping down costs and how Worcestershire has managed to use shared facilities to sustain a vibrant library service throughout the county.
Following this, Robin accompanied Mr Glen to Worcester Cathedral for a tour of the historic site and to meet some of the building’s stonemasons to discuss conservation. They saw the magnificent restored East Window which was funded with help from the Great War Centenary project before seeing work underway on the West Window and an undercroft chapel which has been reopened with help from Historic England. The team of masons who work at the Cathedral include Emily who worked her way through a five year apprenticeship to become a fully qualified stonemason and she was able to show the Minister some of her work including a giant Victoria Cross shortly to be put on display in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Finally they went on to St Swithun’s Church to see how the building will benefit from more than £1.6million in Heritage Lottery Funding announced last year to preserve and restore it to its original glory and to improve its offering as a centre for arts and culture in the heart of the city. During the visits they were accompanied by representatives from Historic England and former Worcester and Mid Worcestershire MP Sir Peter Luff who now chairs the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Speaking after the visit, John Glen MP said:
“I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve seen. The Hive is a unique collaboration between the local authority and the University to provide a world-class facility. Other councils and universities can learn a great deal from what Worcester has done here and as Library Minister I want to make sure this best practice is shared. What I’ve seen here at the Cathedral shows a real dynamism and desire to develop it in keeping with its historical importance and mission and there is a real community of volunteers and enthusiasts.”
“Worcester is a fantastic place and has a blend of real assets which appeal to all generations.”
“It was a pleasure to show my colleague around our beautiful city and some of the world-class facilities we have to offer. Just this week we’ve had a reminder of Worcester’s rich history and heritage as archaeologists working on the site of Worcester’s medieval castle have found evidence that the city was inhabited up to 500 years earlier than previously thought. The discovery means that we now know Worcester’s history goes back almost as far as Rome’s, which should be even more of a pull-factor for tourists.”
“John was very impressed to see the innovative shared services at the Hive. Our library was the first of its kind in Europe when it opened in 2012 and has won almost 50 awards since then, making it a real model for best practice in the field of library services.”
“Visiting the Cathedral and St Swithun’s Church also gave us an opportunity to see some of the city’s most important historical sites. Both buildings have benefited from millions of pounds in Heritage Lottery Funding in the past year to work on new projects – the Cathedral to bring back into use the ancient Undercroft beneath College Hall as a visitor space, and St Swithun’s to conserve and repair the church’s original Georgian architecture and to run a new series of visitor events and open days.”
“With all of these improved facilities and more – including the recently refurbished Commandery Civil War centre – Worcester has never been in a better position to capitalise on its bright future and fascinating past and attract more visitors than ever before.”
Notes to editors
For more information on Worcester’s Heritage Lottery Funding awards, please see https://www.hlf.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/%C2%A328million-national-lottery-funding-pledged-worcester%E2%80%99s
For more information on The Hive, see http://www.thehiveworcester.org/