Royal William Yard | Melville building benefits from Culture Recovery…

Melville building benefits from Culture Recovery Fund government grant

17th Feb 2021

The iconic Melville building, at the heart of the historic Royal William Yard in Plymouth, is set to benefit from a £489,110 life-line grant from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

The magnificent Grade I listed Georgian building – which forms the centre piece of what is believed to be the best preserved collection of naval buildings in the UK – has been awarded funding by Historic England, on behalf of the government.

Originally built as a factory and supply depot for the Royal Navy, between 1828 and 1832, the Melville building was designed by renowned engineer Sir J Rennie Jnr.

Dominating the yard with its colossal size and structure – it is three stories high, built round a quadrangle with an impressive clock tower – the Melville building projects the power and might of the Royal Navy in the early 19th century. 

The Royal William Yard was decommissioned in 1992.  The naval buildings fell into disrepair until developers Urban Splash started a major restoration project, with support from Historic England.

Now the Royal William Yard has been transformed into an award-winning mixed-use community and popular visitor destination. It is home to over 70 businesses including a variety of restaurants, cafes and bars.

The Melville building is one of the last to be transformed. It was undergoing crucial restoration work last spring when the impact of COVID-19 hit. 

The grant from the Culture Recovery Fund will enable owners Urban Splash to continue the vital rescue work to the structure, with the aim of bringing it back to life as a vibrant centre for business, arts and the community. 

The Culture Recovery Fund is aiding recovery in the heritage sector by supporting specialist skills. Work on the Melville building includes specialists across construction and architecture, as well as locally-based firms. 

Heritage Minister, Nigel Huddleston, said: "The Melville Building in Plymouth is an important example of our country's past and how it continues to define culture in our towns and cities today. I am pleased that through the Culture Recovery Fund we are protecting heritage, saving jobs, and ensuring these places are preserved for generations to come."

Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive, said: “Historic places like the Melville building have played an important role in our nation’s past and are being supported by the government’s Culture Recovery Fund so that they can remain part of our collective future. This funding is a lifeline, allowing essential work to take place and providing employment for skilled workers who help keep historic places alive and the wheels of the heritage sector turning.”

Nathan Cornish, Director of Urban Splash, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding from the Culture Recovery Fund. It will enable us to complete the phase one works within Melville. Sensitively restoring this incredible building is pretty challenging and it is only by working with valued partners like Historic England that will allow our vision to become a reality.”