A NEW hospitality company will bring the city’s St Mary’s Guildhall back to life as a major heritage attraction for Coventry when it reopens after a £5.6million revamp.
Coombe Abbey Park (LACO) Ltd, will be appointed to operate the venue and will draw on the expertise and resources of No Ordinary Hospitality Management to deliver an exciting heritage programme, visitor experience and develop the marketing to attract more visitors.
The company has been formed after transforming Coombe Abbey’s commercial operations which include new and refurbished food outlets and a highly successful Go Ape tree-top adventure.
St Mary’s Guildhall, owned by the council, sits next to Coventry’s Cathedral and dates back to 1352 and the redevelopment programme under way is aimed at ensuring it takes its place in the city’s visitor offer for residents and tourists, and grows its reputation and customer base.
It is home of the significant ‘Coventry Tapestry’, Mary Queen of Scots was held there in 1569, and the building miraculously survived the blitz of 1940 which devastated much of the city centre.
No Ordinary Hospitality Management will operate through Coombe Abbey Park (LACO Ltd) for the contract which will also establish the Guildhall as a venue for weddings, events and conferences.
Richard Harrison, Managing Director of No Ordinary Hospitality Management and Coombe Abbey Park Limited, said: “St Mary’s Guildhall is a truly iconic building of national importance within the city centre and we believe it has massive potential for a wide range of events.
“We clearly have experience in dealing successfully with historic buildings and allowing them to deliver cutting-edge events while maintaining their unique character.
“Now we will be working hard to support Coombe Abbey Park (LACO) Ltd to ensure we make the most of the wonderful space and increase its profile within the city, the region and across the country.”
Coun Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change at Coventry City Council, and member of the shareholders panel for Coombe Abbey Park Ltd, said: “This is an important milestone because it means we can start gearing up for opening during our year of UK City of Culture.
“The redevelopment of the Guildhall will help ensure it is sustainable for the future and can become an even more prized asset for the city, both for residents and for visitors who will be able to see the changes to the venue.
“The combination of Coombe Abbey Park (LACO) Ltd as operator and the expertise and resources of No Ordinary Hospitality Management will ensure that we have in places all the skills to help grow the business at the venue – which is an important part of the legacy of the scheme.”
The £5.6million is funded through the Cultural Capital Investment Fund, which is resourced from Coventry City Council, Arts Council England, and the Government’s Getting Building Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
National Lottery Heritage Fund has also provided both capital and additional revenue funding to support three years of activities and events for schools, communities and families to engage both new and existing audiences with the history of St Mary’s Guildhall.
Coun David Welsh, whose Coventry City Council Cabinet portfolio includes Heritage in the city, added: “Through the refurbishment of the Guildhall, contractors are painstakingly ensuring that the many years of history contained in this amazing venue are being sensitively retained and reimagined.
“It will contain all the elements of a modern visitor attraction, including new interactive exhibits and a digital tour, that will bring to life the Guildhall’s amazing history and create a leading high-quality heritage attraction for the public.”
Visit stmarysguildhall.co.uk for more.