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Newcastle Cathedral shines a light on nine centuries of history

Work has begun on an ambitious project to transform The Cathedral Church of St Nicholas in Newcastle

Work has begun on an ambitious project to transform The Cathedral Church of St Nicholas in Newcastle.

The work to improve the sound and lighting system, expected to be finished at the end of October, comes after the Cathedral received a grant of £250,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The money will help light the monuments of the Cathedral in a project called Illuminating Stories. The Cathedral has itself raised funds towards the work, which also includes cleaning of the monuments and provision of new interpretation material.

The work will allow improved, zone-based lighting so that different areas within the Cathedral can be used for different events. Environmentally-friendly LED lighting is being used, which is both reduces the Cathedral’s carbon footprint and is cheaper to run than conventional lighting.

Work is being carried out by Durham firm TGA Consulting Engineers, which is based on the Abbeywood Business Park and is celebrating 50 years in business.

Associate Partner Jason Jobes said: “This is improving what has been a bad lighting system and replacing it with a high-tech, more efficient system. It will be cutting edge when it is completed.”

Cathedral Administrator Julian Haynes said: “The perception of the Cathedral is, and has been for many years, that it is dark and that has been down to the lighting which was put in 30 years ago and was not up to the job then.This new system will allow us to light monuments and different areas of the building.”

The Very Reverend Chris Dalliston, Dean of Newcastle (above) said: “We’ve been really working towards this for the best part of a decade. The work will transform the interior of the Cathedral to present it in a much better way for worshippers and visitors, for our day to day events as well as concerts and similar events.

“It will look absolutely fantastic when it’s finished and will help us to tell the building’s stories, which are part of the story of the city and of the community.

This is a great opportunity to make the Cathedral more welcoming and more accessible for people. An old building like this can be cold and damp and we hope to make it warmer and more welcoming.

“This is the people‘s Cathedral. It’s not just here for the Church and the Christian community. It’s here for everyone. It‘s been here for 900 years and we want to make sure that it continues to be a big part of the city.“

The Cathedral plans to dedicate the new sound and lighting work at a service in November.

Staff at the Cathedral are also hoping to improve heating in the building and install new seating which will allow more events to be staged. To press ahead with that work, they are working to raise £2.5m, of which £1m has already been raised. It is hoped that work can start in 2014.

Photo by Keith Blundy/Aegies Associates

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