Heritage Fund announces £12m to preserve historic UK buildings

Duo Vita perform at the Ice House in Great Yarmouth ( Paul Marriott/PA Wire

The only thatched ice house of its kind, and the oldest picture house in Northern Ireland are among the buildings to receive capital

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has today announced £12.2m in funding for historic buildings and monuments across the UK.

Among the built heritage projects is the only thatched ice house of its kind, and the oldest picture house in Northern Ireland.

The historic Ice House in Great Yarmouth was once used to house freshly caught seafood ahead of transportation to London’s Billingsgate fish market, and is now set to be transformed into the UK’s Centre of Excellence in Outdoor Circus and Arts.

The Strand Arts Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland will have its 1930s architectural features and décor restored in a “celebration of pre- war cinema and Northern Ireland’s cinema heritage.”

Meanwhile, the Cardiff Market Restoration Project aims to revitalise the city’s Victorian market, St John’s Church in Kent will be transformed into a Gateway Community Hub, and the Grade II listed Lowestoft Town Hall in Suffolk – stood vacant since 2015 – will be restored.

The projects take a share of a combined £10.4m worth of funding for heritage buildings across the UK announced today.

An additional £1.7m will be allocated to development projects, including the lochside church, in Argyll, which will “promote wellbeing in the local area through an enhanced programme of festivals and events, and by working with members of the community to address disadvantages.”

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Saving heritage is core to what we do, and we look forward to seeing these fantastic projects improving the condition and understanding of the important heritage they guard, reducing the amount of ‘heritage at risk’, and delivering transformational projects for communities across the UK.

Full project details:

Historic Ice House transformed into centre for Circus Arts, Great Yarmouth – £1.9m

The Ice House is set to be transformed into a new Centre of Excellence in Outdoor Circus and Arts. Built between 1851 and 1892, the Ice House was once a vital asset in the town’s once- thriving fishing industry, enabling the storage of freshly caught seafood before transportation to London’s Billingsgate fish market. In the mid-19th century, the Ice House stood at the forefront of an industrial revolution that would propel the town’s fortunes to new heights. However, as modern technologies advanced, the Ice House fell into disuse, serving for some time as a grain store. The completion of the project, which is being led by Out There Arts, would be a significant step towards the realisation of a vision for Great Yarmouth being recognised as the UK Capital for Circus and Outdoor Arts.

Northern Ireland’s oldest cinema, The Strand Arts Centre, Belfast – £768,069

The Strand, Northern Ireland’s last standing picture house, is on the brink of a renaissance. This capital restoration project led by Belfast City Council and the Strand Arts Centre aims not only to save this iconic venue but also to transform it into a valued heritage asset. Visitors to The Strand will step back in time for a “living museum” experience of a pre-war cinema, complete with the restoration of key 1935 architectural features, period-style decor, and engaging interpretive designs that unlock Northern Ireland’s cinema heritage.

Restoration of vibrant Victorian market, Cardiff – £2m

New life will be breathed into the Grade II* listed Victorian Cardiff Market, which originally opened in 1891 and stands on the site of the infamous Cardiff Gaol and gallows site where Dic Penderyn was hanged. The project, led by Cardiff Council, will transform the market, securing its future and engaging local communities, visitors, and traders in its shared heritage. It includes revitalising the market’s structure, reducing energy costs, working with market traders to care for heritage stalls, and presenting the market’s historic significance through various media. The Cardiff Market Restoration Project aims to attract a diverse range of audiences, making it a vibrant destination within the city’s Castle Cultural Quarter.

Historic church renovation in Chatham, Kent – £2.3m

St. John’s in Chatham is set to transform from a heritage building at risk into a thriving, sustainable Gateway Community Hub. In an area of high deprivation, this project, which will also benefit from £1m of future High Streets Fund via Medway Council, invites Chatham’s diverse population to connect with the heritage of their area, bringing the historic church to life for future generations.

Lowestoft Town Hall, Suffolk – £3.2m

The Grade II listed Lowestoft Town Hall has been vacant since 2015. The project led by Lowestoft Town Council aims, beyond addressing its physical condition, to make a significant cultural, community, and economic contribution to Lowestoft. It will engage local people, improve residents’ lives, and transform the town’s historic heart.

A lochside church in Argyll, Scotland – £93,792

This project is considered one of the finest church buildings in the UK, St Conan’s Kirk. As well as addressing some key conservation needs within the area, the National Lottery Heritage Fund will help St Conan’s Kirk to identify fundamental needs such as utilising usable spaces in the building for a wide range of community, visitor and group uses.

Further Heritage Fund support has also been awarded to a number of organisations in order to develop their plans to revitalise heritage buildings across the UK:

  • Working with the local community, St Conan’s will introduce new initiatives that promote heritage engagement through facility and programme development, maximising the unique role of St Conan’s Kirk in promoting wellbeing in Lochawe, Lochaweside and Argyll, Scotland – £93,792
  • A new project to bring new life to St Collen’s Church in Llangollen, Wales, maximising its usage for the wider community and visitors – £94,886
  • Alice Billings House project, in Stratford, London will transform the long-disused and derelict Grade II building in Newham, into a creative hub for artists creating in jobs, economic activity, and heritage-led learning inspiration for a reconnected local community – £467,172
  • The ‘Rock Hall Revival’ will establish a central community hub in Farnworth, Bolton, connecting Moses Gate Country Park’s heritage with the surrounding area’s history – £466,662
  • The heritage of Woodoaks Farm, donated to the Soil Association Land Trust in 2019, will be revitalised through a project to preserve and repurpose its old farm buildings, to develop an education and community hub that addresses key societal and environmental challenges, and inspire people to reconnect with food, farming and nature – £201,392
  • The Canal & River Trust aim to create a free-to-enter and fully accessible heritage visitor destination at Ellesmere Yard in the heart of Shropshire connecting residents to over 250 years of their rural heritage – £409,993
  • The cottage hospital movement at Napper cottage pioneered the “free at the point of use” model which became the foundation of the NHS. The first cottage hospital in England, was in Cranleigh Surrey and will be used as a Community Hub focusing on health and wellbeing as well as encouraging locals and visitors to spend time in Cranleigh and learn about the area’s heritage – £58,700