Heritage Project

November 2019 Update

Capital Works Progress

Over the last few weeks there has been a flurry of activity as contractors and their suppliers have measured up and priced the capital works. We expect to make an appointment in mid November when we will then be able to work with the contractor on the final scope of works, the likely phasing of activity, and the impact on Cathedral life that this will have.

Design Team Activity

In the meantime, the Landscape Architect, HarrisonStevens, is working through a number of planning conditions with the City Council relating to protection of tree roots, types of materials for paving and seating, a suitable planting scheme and a long term maintenance plan for the remodelled churchyards.

Our newly appointed interpretation company is working through key themes to develop as heritage storylines both inside and out.

Any visual interpretation needs coordinating with the look and feel of new signage and new signs need coordinating with the landscaping capital works so my job is to make sure that design team members keep talking to each other and that their ideas gain the approval of Chapter and the Project Delivery Board.

Retail and Marketing

At a recent Cathedral and Church Shops Association trade fair I caught up with our retail designer. We’re working on refining the initial concept (see following images) for mobile retail units which can double up as a bar counter for evening events!

We’ll also be able to neatly align them against the wall in the side aisle when we need more space for large services. There are lots of lovely Christian and heritage gifts and souvenirs which we will investigate for a gift shop offer in 2021.

We’re keen to photograph the Cathedral before the military colours and loose furniture are removed to make way for the capital works. We are lucky that the Whickham Photographic Club is willing to help with this. Another photographer has taken ‘hero’ images of the building which will be used in the Cathedral’s future marketing campaign, on its new website (currently in progress) and also in a possible new guidebook.

Activities and Events

Rachael Rickwood, Learning and Activities Officer, has developed a new creative workshop offer around the Cathedral’s fantastic animal imagery for primary schools wishing to combine art and history studies. Rachael will be going out to schools to run free workshops and promote the Cathedral’s learning programme. We’re also inviting schools to explore some key people buried in the Cathedral in relation to other contemporary personalities. Watch out for the children’s artistic responses in due course! If you know any teacher or school who might be interested in participating, please contact Rachael (learning@stnicholascathedral.co.uk).

Rachael has also been exploring placements and apprenticeships for older students and we have been in discussions with several course leaders from colleges and universities across the region. We have already welcomed a student from Sunderland University for a short term placement with us, learning about and assisting with the Cathedral learning programme. We are soon to welcome students from several courses at Northumbria University to work with us in areas such as marketing, learning, events management and project management. Student placements are a great opportunity for students to gain hands on experience in the working world but they are mutually beneficial to us as they allow us to work with people at the start of their career who can bring a fresh perspective and exciting new ideas to the table. We are excited to continue working with students throughout the course of the project.

An anonymous donor sponsored a dinner for project funders in the nave on 11 October. The Dean gave an update on Cathedral activity and guests were entertained by a small number of lay clerks who sang in glorious close harmony.

On 18 October, we invited neighbouring businesses to a reception for them to find out more about the Cathedral’s development plans and join us at “The Last Night of the Proms”. We found out that we are being closely watched from meeting rooms and offices in Milburn House and St Nicholas Building! We hope to build on this early interest and keep businesses informed as we move through the project.

Funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund enables us to look at staff and volunteer training needs across the next four years. The training programme kicked off in October with facilitator, the Revd. Peter Sinclair, inviting thirty people to discuss what the Cathedral community’s values should and could be. Peter brings experience from both church and industry positions. We’re grateful to him for helping staff, volunteers and congregation members begin to shape a set of values which will become the bedrock of the Cathedral’s welcome.

Lindy Gilliland, Project Manager


Lucy Cooke, our Volunteer Coordinator, has been rather busy. She has established new ways to gather information on our volunteers’ hard work as well as making sure regular communication is now happening.

After checking the Welcomer role description was still fit for purpose, Lucy started to recruit and at the time of writing had seven new volunteer enquiries. An initial induction day is planned to provide our new starters with some training and a chance to a learn more about the Cathedral. We have also been very happy to welcome back two wonderful young people to help with our administration and marketing, a new ambassador for the project at Newcastle University and not forgetting a new Community History volunteer.

A trip to Durham Cathedral allowed the sharing of expertise with conversations started on joint training provision and possible volunteer exchanges. In addition to attending to individual needs, Lucy is now also working with the Whickham Photography Club to both capture the support they are planning to give in recording the military colours during their removal and to arrange a trip up the Tower to photograph our autumnal skyline.

Lucy Cooke, Volunteer Coordinator

Community History Group

Dave Heslop has continued to work with the Community History Volunteers and arranged a meeting in October.

They have provided support for the archaeological research project in reviewing the layout maps (e.g. see images of the 1769 Hutton Plan below) for the ledger stones throughout the centuries.

Most of the stones have moved once and some twice, so mapping where they have been during the various rearrangements will be useful in determining which named families could be anticipated at the proposed archaeological trial dig sites next summer.

There is some indication that the choice of location reflected more on the family’s background, so further research into the biographies of individual families is now needed to help this line of enquiry.

If you would like to know more information about anything you’ve read here, please contact Alice Massey, Project Support Officer at cgiss@stnicholascathedral.co.uk.

If you would like to keep up to date with our fabulous National Lottery Heritage Fund funded Project, ‘Common Ground in Sacred Space‘, please register your email address below to hear about CGISS project milestones, engagement days, or how to support the project, for example through match funding, chair sponsorship, volunteering or research.

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