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photo credit: Robert Lloyd-Sweet, Historic England
photo credit: Robert Lloyd-Sweet, Historic England

£100,000 awarded to help transform Ryde’s historic buildings

12 July 2021

Nearly £100,000 in new funding has been awarded by the Architectural Heritage Fund towards the restoration of three of Ryde’s historic buildings.  

It includes £68,500 to continue the transformation of a closed-down department store into a new cultural venue in Ryde town centre, and forms part of wider work by the Architectural Heritage Fund to revive UK high streets by developing new uses for historic buildings.

The grant has been awarded to locally-based arts organisation Shademakers CIC, one of the Europe’s leading carnival groups, so that it can develop detailed plans for the former Elizabeth Packs store which lies within Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone..

The 19th century listed building became a department store in 1970 before its closure five years ago. Keen to support the building’s renaissance as a community-led venture, Shademakers has negotiated with the landlord to reopen it as creative and cultural space, Department.

Initial investment from Shademakers led to a feasibility study by award-winning London architects, TurnerWorks, while Historic England have supported preliminary works alongside  its Heritage Action Zone investment. Department now runs arts events and activities, with further plans to create new working and performance spaces for creative businesses, as well as a shop, cafe and permanent homes for Shademakers and Ryde Arts.

The Architectural Heritage Fund’s Project Development Grant will allow Shademakers to develop a detailed business plan, costed designs and employ a project manager for this next stage of its transformation.

Sharon George from Shademakers CIC said: “It’s fantastic to see the Department open today thanks to funding from Historic England while this new grant from the Architectural Heritage will allow us to progress the next stage of our plans.

“We’re working hard to provide more space for creative businesses and opportunities for young people by restoring this building at the heart of Ryde back to business and community use.”

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) has also awarded Project Viability Grants to Ryde Town Council for Vectis Hall and St Thomas’s Chapel, which have fallen into disrepair but could now be repurposed as new community hubs and a base for Ryde youth service, Network Ryde. An earlier grant to Aspire Ryde for Trinity Buildings means AHF has invested in four of the town’s most important listed buildings.

Matthew Mckeague, Chief Executive of the AHF, said: “The restoration of historic buildings can play a transformative role in town centre regeneration programmes, with the approach taken at the Department in Ryde demonstrating the important role of community ownership and imaginative schemes in revitalising high streets. We are now seeing a host of projects across the country that are building a network of sustainable organisations partnering with local government, social enterprises, charities and community businesses that will help renew communities and secure key spaces and services in town centres.”

An event to mark the first phase of the Department’s development and tour Historic England’s Heritage Action Zone took place on Thursday 8 July with local councillors and representatives from Historic England and the Architectural Heritage Fund in attendance.




Notes to Editors


Editor’s notes

1)    The Architectural Heritage Fund is a registered charity, working since 1976 to promote the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas. We are the only specialist heritage social investor in the UK. We provide advice, development grants and loans.

2)   Contact details

Mark Thomson,, 07731 451 350

Oliver Brodrick-Ward,, 0207 925 0199


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