Focus Consultants has completed a project management role for a major conservation scheme at Auckland Castle, the former home of the Prince Bishops of Durham.

The 900-year-old Castle has just re-opened as part of The Auckland Project visitor destination following a three-year conservation project.  It uses art, architecture and historic interior design, combined with interactive animation, soundscapes and audio-visual displays, to tell the untold stories of power and faith from some of the most influential men in British history.

Nottingham-based Focus Consultants, which also has branches in London, Leicester and Newark, was strategic project manager for the conservation scheme and also quantity surveyor for the project manager for the fit out.

“This has been a rewarding and high-profile project to work on and we have been thrilled to see how well received the conservation project at Auckland Castle has been,” said Focus partner Eleanor Clarke.

“Auckland Castle has a fascinating history stretching back over 900 years and Focus Consultants was very proud to have overseen this important conservation scheme which opens up more of the Castle to the public and also helps to safeguard it for future generations. The Castle is a key part of The Auckland Project regeneration charity and visitor destination, which takes in various attractions and locations in this part of County Durham.”

Auckland Castle was bought by financier Jonathan Ruffer in 2012 with the aim of making it accessible to visitors. With support from organisations and individuals, including a £12.4m grant from National Lottery players via The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Castle has now been sensitively returned to its Georgian Gothic splendour, as designed by renowned English architect James Wyatt.

Visitors can follow Wyatt’s 18th century processional route through the Castle from its private chapel – recognised as one of the largest in Europe – to the State Rooms, where the Prince Bishops entertained important guests.

The private apartments where later Bishops lived with their families, are also open to the public for the first time, offering an insight into the domestic lives of the Castle’s former residents. Each room presents episodes in the life of a particular Bishop, capturing a specific moment in time.

Interpretation within the rooms is delivered through a range of interactive media, including soundscapes, animations and audio-visual displays bringing the stories of Auckland Castle to life.  A special family trail is available for younger guests, while visitors of all ages are also be able to handle some key objects on display, to help them experience the Castle in a more engaging way.

Auckland Castle is at the heart of The Auckland Project, a regeneration charity and multi-faceted visitor destination using art, faith and heritage to fuel long-term change in the town of Bishop Auckland.

Focus Consultants has wide experience of working within the heritage sector and offers a range of services including project management, sustainable development support, building surveying and quantity surveying.

The company also specialises in funding and economic development including area regeneration strategies, funding applications, economic impact appraisals, business plans, and research and evaluation. Since 1994 Focus has also secured for clients more than £1.1 billion of grants for projects and businesses across the UK and delivered more than £1.3 billion worth of projects and programmes – making it one of the most successful businesses of its kind in the country.

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Photograph by House of Hues, Courtesy of The Auckland Project

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