The team responsible for Chester Cathedral’s popular tower tour attraction Cathedral at Height were in high spirits as they picked up a RICS Award for best North West Tourism and Leisure project at a recent awards ceremony at Gorton Monastery.
The RICS Awards showcase the most inspirational regional initiatives and developments in land, property, construction and the built environment.
The team behind the award-winning tower project includes Chester-based architects Donald Insall Associates and Manchester-based project managers Turner and Townsend. William Anelay Ltd. - specialists in the restoration, conservation and refurbishment of listed and historic buildings – were also appointed as project contractors.
The Cathedral at Height project was made possible by a generous grant from Cheshire West and Chester Council and took years to plan and seven months onsite to complete.
The project, dubbed a “cutting edge tourist offering in a medieval setting” by the RICS judges, has created a three dimensional tour that is a voyage of discovery up through the walkways and tower rooms of the cathedral. It combines sections of modern interpretation and museum-like experiences with unexpectedly breathtaking views of the interior of the building.
Cathedral at Height opened in April 2014 and has since seen more than 7,500 intrepid explorers ascend the cathedral’s central tower. Since its official launch, tower visitors have included a group of extreme cellists who performed an impromptu concert on the cathedral roof, the finalists of the World Town Crier Championships and Star Trek actor George Takei. In February 2015, the project won an award in Chester Civic Trust’s New Year Honours list.
Director of Operations at Chester Cathedral, Simon Warburton, said:
“We are immensely proud of Cathedral at Height and are delighted that the project has been recognised with a RICS Award. Cathedral at Height represents an innovative development for the city and is the product of an exciting partnership with, and a generous grant from, Cheshire West and Chester Council. We are very grateful for their support and hope that the project will continue to have a very positive effect on the city’s tourism offer.”
Vice Dean at Chester Cathedral Peter Howell-Jones said:
“We are very pleased with the Cathedral at Height visitor attraction and are always hearing that visitors love it.
The tour really does have something for everyone – breathtaking views, a sense of adventure, a touch of the spiritual – and is not to be missed.
Our partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council on this project has proved very fruitful and we are already seeing that the attraction is having a knock on effect for the city as a whole – increasing dwell time in the short term and boosting economic growth in the longer term."
The RICS Award judges said:
“The judges chose the Cathedral at Height project as the winner due to the impact that the project has had, and will continue to have, on the destination tourism plan on offer in the city.
The project has been sympathetic to the natural fabric of the building whilst boldly opening up areas to the general public which have hitherto been unseen throughout the centuries. It definitely provides a ‘wow’ experience and a lasting memory.”
Tickets for the tour are £8.00 for adults and £6.00 for children and the attraction is open Monday – Saturday from 10.00am. To book tickets visit www.chestercathedral.com or call the Chester Cathedral Box Office on (01244) 500 959.
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