New attraction for Chester City Centre

December 14, 2017

A New Page in History

Big Heritage are pleased to announce that we have agreed a deal to take over the running of St Michael's Church in Chester - currently home to the History and Heritage centre.

Whilst we are currently keeping our plans for the building under wraps, we can confirm that we will be working with Wellcome Trust and other major partners in the UK and the US to create a new heritage visitor attraction for the city centre. We anticipate this will attract a minimum of 40,000 visitors per year, and bringing at least £2m per year into the local economy. It will also mean the creation of at least six new jobs, and some exciting partnerships.

Big Heritage’s Dean Paton said: “We are really excited to be bringing a cutting-edge new attraction to Chester that will push the boundaries of engaging people with the past. It will combine some incredible digital technology with historical archives and artifacts to present the story of Chester in a whole new light. We intend to invest close to £1m in the project over the next 18 months, and believe our offer will be become a 'must see' for both visitors and local residents alike. We will also continue to run a visitor experience at the Water Tower on the City Walls, which will see additional reinvestment from the Big Heritage team.

The local and family history service has been based at St Michael’s Church in Bridge Street for a number of years but is relocating in January to the Grosvenor Museum.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member, Communities and Wellbeing said: “Chester History and Heritage provides a fascinating service both looking after and sharing our history. When the team re-opens in the Museum they will continue to offer all of the previous services but look forward to seeing many new users.  The Museum welcomes over 80,000 visitors a year providing a far larger audience for Chester History and Heritage.

“The team are keen to widen their reach and find ways to improve access that could include bringing the service into different buildings and sharing their exhibitions with more locations across Chester.  They will be consulting with service users to help to develop the future look and feel of the service to ensure all of the most valued resources are maintained and new ideas explored.“

Without the constraints of managing St Michael’s Church, the move will give the team more time to work on additional projects; they already work closely with Chester Civic Trust, volunteers and owners of many historic buildings on the Heritage Festival, and the annual Heritage Open Days.

Added Councillor Gittins: “As the Heritage service moves out of St Michael’s I’m very excited to confirm that following a short closure the building will re-open with a brand new history attraction run by Chester based Community Interest Company, Big Heritage. Details about this new attraction will be revealed by Big Heritage very soon. The Council will retain ownership of St Michael’s that will benefit from their new investment. The surplus generated by the attraction will be reinvested in the attraction and activities which engage people in Chester and the surrounding area.”

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