16 Apr 2009 11:36 AM
£700k grant will help people to 'Discover Greenwich'

DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT News Release (026/09) issued by COI News Distribution Service on 16 April 2009

A major new tourist attraction exploring the history of maritime Greenwich was given the go-ahead today, as Culture Minister Barbara Follett pledged the final £700,000 needed to make the 'Discover Greenwich' project a reality.

The grant has plugged the remaining funding gap so that the project can be completed by the Greenwich Foundation, adding to nearly £1.8million in support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in addition to donations from other supporters. 'Discover Greenwich' will be housed at the Old Royal Naval College. The exhibition will tell the story of the historic site from Henry VIII's Tudor Palace and Wren's Royal Hospital for Seamen to its 20th century role as the Royal Navy's staff college. It will tell the personal stories of many of the characters behind the buildings, from monarchs and admirals to architects and craftsmen.

Ms Follett, also Tourism Minister at the Department, said:

"I am glad that this marvellous project can now be completed. The Greenwich Foundation's new interpretation and education centre will help visitors navigate their way around the World Heritage Site, and encourage them to learn more about its rich history.

"There is a particular emphasis on meeting the needs of school parties with the creation of the Clore Learning Suite, and with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games rapidly approaching, the new Tourist Information Centre that is also part of the project could not be more timely."

Sue Bowers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the London region said:

"We're delighted that this supporting funding has been secured for Discover Greenwich and look forward to completion of the project, which will benefit not only the local community but its visitors alike at this important world heritage site."

'Discover Greenwich' will open early in 2010.

Notes for editors
1. 'Discover Greenwich' is a new Interpretation and Learning centre developed by the Greenwich Foundation to inspire visitors to explore the rich history of the Old Royal Naval College and the entire Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. 'Discover Greenwich' will include a new exhibition hall, a learning suite, a temporary exhibition space and a brasserie and microbrewery, all located in the Pepys Building (where the previous Visitor Centre was located). For more information on 'Discover Greenwich', please visit: http://www.oldroyalnavalcollege.org/the-greenwich-foundation/discover-greenwich,64,AT.html. For further information and images, please contact:

Helen Beioley
Director of Public Affairs at the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College
hbeioley@greenwichfoundation.org.uk / 020 8269 4753

2. DCMS's £700k grant represents the balance of funding needed following a grant of £1.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £2.8 million from The Greenwich Foundation, and £500k from other charitable foundations and individuals.

3. Attached to the Centre, a new brasserie and a microbrewery will open in the former Old Brewery building of the Hospital, which last produced beer in the 1860's. This will be run by the Greenwich Meantime Brewery, an award-winning local brewery. There was a brewery on the site of the Old Royal Naval College from 1717 until around 1860 and its function was to supply the retired and injured seafarers, inmates of the Royal Hospital, with their daily ration of beer. The current building was built in 1831, substantially altered in 1843 and subsequently all but demolished. Once a large, three storey building, all that remains today is a single storey block with a series of vaults below. The structure of the building includes rare examples of fish bellied beams made of cast iron. A series of interlinking vaults of the 1830s has been revealed, including the cast iron head of a well, thought to be 200 ft deep. Meantime brewery will produce its own Greenwich Porter to replicate the beer produced by the brewery in the early 18th century. For further information about Meantime Brewery contact Peter Haydon at peter@meantimbrewing.com

4. The Heritage Lottery Fund enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage. From our great museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up our nation's heritage for everyone to enjoy. They have supported more than 28,800 projects, allocating almost £4.3billion across the UK. This includes over £850 million in London alone. For further information about the HLF contact Vicky Wilford, HLF Press Office, on 0207 591 6046 vickyw@hlf.org.uk

5. The Clore Foundation was founded in 1964 by the late Sir Charles Clore, one of Britain's most successful post-war businessmen and one of the most generous philanthropists of his day. After Sir Charles' death in 1979, his daughter, Vivien Duffield, assumed the Chairmanship of the Foundation and created her own Foundation in 1987 with the aim of continuing and consolidating her family's history of philanthropy. The two Foundations were merged in 2000 to become the Clore Duffield Foundation. The Foundation is chaired by Dame Vivien Duffield DBE and concentrates its support on education, the arts, museum and gallery education, cultural leadership training and health and social care, whilst placing particular emphasis on supporting children, young people and society's more vulnerable individuals.

6. The Tourist Information Centre, currently located nearby at 54 Greenwich Church Street, is funded and operated by Greenwich Council.

7. Brief Site History

A Royal Palace once stood on the site of the Old Royal Naval College, of which only Inigo Jones' Queen's House remains. The Palace was the birthplace of Henry VIII and his daughters Mary and Elizabeth. It was also reputedly Henry's favourite residence, and the setting for many royal and state occasions.

The current buildings began life as Greenwich Hospital, which was established in 1694 by Royal Charter for the relief and support of seamen and their dependants and for the improvement of navigation. Sir Christopher Wren planned the site, described as "one of the most sublime sights English architecture affords", and, during the first half of the eighteenth century, other illustrious architects, such as Hawksmoor and Vanbrugh, completed Wren's grand design.

In June 1705, the first Pensioners arrived and by 1814 a total of 2,710 lived at the Hospital. For three days in January 1806, Admiral Lord Nelson's body lay-in-state in the Painted Hall and thousands of mourners visited to pay their respects with the queue stretching back towards London. In 1869 the Hospital was closed, and in 1873 the complex of buildings became the Royal Naval College, where officers from all over the world came to train in the naval sciences. The Navy moved out in 1998 to merge its officer training with that of the RAF and Army at a new Joint Services Staff College in Shrivenham. With the departure of the Royal Navy from Greenwich, responsibility for the Old Royal Naval College passed to the Greenwich Foundation which was set up in 1997. The Foundation is a registered charity established to look after, interpret and provide public access to the buildings and their grounds for the benefit of the nation. Maritime Greenwich was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1997.

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