On 21st September, trustees and staff of the Architectural Heritage Fund met in Cardiff for the first in-person Grants Panel since 2019. Hosted at Cornerstone, an historic city-centre church adapted into an elegant events space, the Panel awarded 15 new grants: seven from the ‘Transforming Places through Heritage Programme’ in England, totalling £416,285, one in Scotland of £30,000, and seven in Wales with a sum of £200,284.
The overall total of grants awarded in the meeting was £646,569. For a full list, see our latest Grant Offers.
The meeting’s location was particularly appropriate giving that the Panel was considering the first batch of awards in a new capital grants programme in Wales generously funded by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Division. As part of this programme, grants are available for charities and social enterprises seeking support for repair, restoration, and emergency works for their projects.
Among the four Welsh Capital Works Grants offered was funding to Capel Carmel for their plans to conserve the Carmel Baptist Chapel and restore the adjoining Grade II-listed Chapel House. Situated in Capel Carmel, a rural village in Gwynedd, the Chapel and Chapel House are linked buildings of small size which form a rare surviving duo: lime-washed, plastered walls and timber rail make up this quintessentially 19th-century interior.
While the Chapel will be restored as an educational facility for locals and visitors to learn about and interact with a slice of history, the group intend to conserve the Chapel House to provide long-term, affordable accommodation – a direct response to a lack of housing in the area. The AHF previously supported the project with a Development Grant in 2019; the new grant will support restoration and adaptation of the Chapel House.
Also supported by a capital grant were Hafod Ceiri’s plans to adapt Grade II*-listed Capel Methodistiaid Calfinaidd (M.C.) in Llithfaen into a performance and events space with community facilities, education space and bunkhouse accommodation units in the adjoining vestry. The hope for this project is that the new facilities will create employment, training and volunteering opportunities for local people. A previous AHF grant part-funded repairs to the roof, gallery ceiling, and plasterwork around the main entrance. The most recent Capital Works Grant will provide funding to restore 19 windows in the Chapel.
On the second day in Cardiff, Trustees and staff were able to visit two heritage regeneration projects supported by the AHF: the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay and the former Roath Library.
Opened in 1868, the Norwegian Church was more than a place of worship – it was a home from home to sailors from the large Norwegian Merchant Fleet. Dismantled in 1987 and painstakingly rebuilt in 1992 in its new location, overlooking Cardiff Bay, the Church now houses the Norwegian Church Arts Centre providing a programme of arts, crafts and cultural events. In 2020, the AHF awarded the Society a grant to help them explore the best options for their project with the help of professional consultants.
Rounding off the trip, Trustees and staff met with Rubicon Dance, a social arts organisation delivering dance to individuals of all ages and abilities, including those usually excluded from the arts: the disabled, hospital patients, stroke survivors, and the elderly, often isolated and lonely. In May 2021, the AHF awarded Rubicon Dance a grant to employ a Project Manager to coordinate the development plans to restore the Grade II-listed former Roath Branch Library in Cardiff, an impressive Victorian building currently derelict, to provide a number of new dance studios.
After so many months of virtual meetings, Trustees and staff were thrilled for the chance to gain a greater insight into the projects being funded across Wales. It was also an opportunity to meet with the people behind the projects and to see first-hand the impact they are having within their communities by transforming heritage.