Blackburn Cathedral, together with the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, this afternoon welcomes a two-year £20m fund allocated in the Budget for urgent cathedral repairs.
The Cathedral confirmed today it will be applying for a share of the fund for important future work.
Speaking earlier The Dean of Blackburn, The Very Rev. Christopher Armstrong, said: “We are really grateful to The Chancellor for this money set aside for Cathedrals but I would also like to think that the Chancellor’s statement is also an endorsement of the place which cathedrals play in the fabric of our culture, both locally and nationally.”
Cathedrals are a key part of forming the cultural identity of many of England’s cities, and are powerful symbols of our shared history.
But they are not just icons of the past. They are active community hubs and are at the centre of several urban regeneration plans, including Blackburn, Peterborough, and Leicester, which are all creating cathedral quarters.
The Church of England’s 42 cathedrals alone welcome over 11m visitors a year with only 6,000 staff but over 15,000 dedicated volunteers; demonstrating how much cathedrals contribute to, but also depend upon, the communities around them. Church of England Cathedrals generate annually at least £350 million for the economy.
This has been part of their historical resilience. However despite this admirable support, upkeep and restoration costs often fall disproportionately on these small dedicated local groups.
As a result the Church of England predicts a £87m repair funding shortfall over the next five years.
£20m of grants will help meet the costs of urgent repairs to these great buildings and support local fundraising efforts by Church of England and Roman Catholic Cathedrals.
Canon Andrew Hindley, who is responsible for the Blackburn Cathedral Maintenance programme said: “This is such good news for cathedrals like ours which do not have historic monies to help with repairs.
“We shall be applying for funds to repair the Transepts and Jesus Chapel stonework as soon as we have details of the fund.”
Chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York, added: “As Dean of one of the cathedrals which is eligible to apply to this fund, I appreciate the incredible heritage of these internationally important places.
“However I am particularly happy to welcome this fund as it is about much more than just beautiful buildings. Whether great or small cathedrals are part of the lifeblood of their towns and cities.
“They also bring in millions of visitors and millions of pounds a year, right across England. They are a source of community spirit and local pride. They are part of the identity of England.”
The grant will be available over a two year period for Church of England and Roman Catholic Cathedrals in England.