Meldrum Construction secures contract to restore 900-year-old Auckland Castle


Meldrum Construction Services has secured a contract to restore the 900-year-old Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, UK, to its actual Georgian Gothic structure.

Under the £12m contract, Meldrum will carry out restoration work on behalf of the regional charity, Auckland Castle Trust (ACT).

This deal covers an extension to Auckland Castle’s Scotland Wing, designed by Niall McLaughlin Architects.

The wing is being constructed by Meldrum in partnership with Turner & Townsend to include a new Faith Museum, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Jerusalem Trust.

Purcell is the lead architect of all the work within the castle complex.

Founded in 2001 and specialising in Grade I and Grade II listed buildings, Meldrum has an annual turnover of around £30m. Its previous contracts include the Bruce Building and St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle, UK, and the Sunderland Empire Theatre, Sunderland, UK.

Meldrum Construction Services managing director Dave Meldrum said: “[We] are now looking at ways in which we can involve the local community and maximise the opportunities we can offer them while working in Bishop Auckland.”

About 50% of Meldrum’s present 190 employees will be involved in the Auckland Castle project. The employees include carpenters, bricklayers, welder/fabricators, ground workers, plant operators and electricians.

This restoration project is being supported by National Lottery players through a £11.4m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), in addition to Sir James Knott Trust, The Charles Hayward Foundation, The Headley Trust, The Linbury Trust, The Rothschild Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, J Paul Getty Junior Charitable Trust, and the Overstone Fund.

Meldrum will work with project managers Turner & Townsend and lead consultant and conservation accredited architects Purcell, along with Auckland Castle Trust’s Curatorial Team.

This Grade I listed building is proposed to be restored in a way that better tells the story of its previous occupant, the Prince Bishop of Durham.

Turner & Townsend area manager Geoff Brown said: “The restoration of Auckland Castle is a significant project for us, incorporating both a wide range of repairs, replacements and redecoration to the existing castle, and the construction of an extension to create contemporary gallery space.

“We will be working closely with Meldrum, Purcell and Auckland Castle Trust’s Curatorial Team to ensure this is all carried out in keeping with the historic nature of the building, as well as modern regulations.”

Purcell has worked on the restoration of Kensington Palace, Tower Bridge and the National Maritime Museum.

"The restoration of Auckland Castle is a significant project for us, incorporating both a wide range of repairs, replacements and redecoration to the existing castle, and the construction of an extension to create contemporary gallery space."

It has 15 offices across the UK, as well as locations in Asia-Pacific and Australia.

Purcell associate Dr Alexander Holton said: ”Purcell is immensely proud to be part of one of the most ambitious and exciting heritage projects that has taken place in the North East for decades.

“Through the vision of the Auckland Castle Trust, and its Chairman, Jonathan Ruffer, the site will be transformed into a world-class visitor destination that will continue to act as a platform for social and economic regeneration throughout County Durham and beyond.”

The restoration of Auckland Castle and creation of the new Faith Museum is part of a £70m programme by Auckland Castle Trust to revitalise Bishop Auckland.


Image: Meldrum awarded £12m Auckland Castle restoration project. Photo: courtesy of Meldrum Construction.