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BBC Restoration Winner Opens Doors

Birmingham, United Kingdom, June 11, 2008 --( Birmingham’s winning Restoration project, the historic Saracen’s Head and Old Grammar School in Kings Norton, will be officially opened by Mark Thompson the Director General of the BBC and Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund on Friday 13th June 2008.

The Kings Norton Restoration, winner of the second BBC Two Restoration programme in 2004, joins a host of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) supported projects to be completed since the series started in 2003 including Easthouse Croft, Shetland Islands; Greyfriars Tower in Kings Lynn, and Darnley Mausoleum in Surrey.

Following victory in the BBC Two Restoration programme in 2004, the project was made possible with a grant of £2.5 million from the HLF, together with support from BBC Restoration viewers, English Heritage, and a further £1.3 million raised by the parish church. The first part of the project, the Old Grammar School, opened in January this year.

Restoration specialists, Linford-Bridgeman, completed the final touches earlier this month in time for the doors to be officially opened this week.

What is now known as the Saracen’s Head is a magnificent Tudor house, built in 1492, which became the Saracen’s Head inn in around 1800. With the Old Grammar School and the even older St Nicolas Church, it forms the finest collection of medieval buildings in Birmingham. Restoration has revealed much more of the original Tudor building and has also created a completely new wing which enables the whole building to be used as a heritage, community and education centre.

Canon Rob Morris, Kings Norton Team Rector said: “Five years ago, both these buildings were on the point of closure. They needed major repair and were costing the church thousands of pounds each year just to keep them going. Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Restoration Fund, English Heritage, the BBC, thousands of supporters across the country, and to our brilliant team of professionals and volunteers from church and community, they now have a wonderful future for all.”

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “The BBC Restoration series demonstrated just how passionate people are about looking after their heritage. I’m delighted that both the Saracen’s Head and the Old Grammar School, restored with an investment of £2.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, are now ready to welcome a whole new generation of users and visitors.”

Simon Linford, Chief Executive of restoration specialists Linford-Bridgeman said: “One evening, just before we finished our work, I watched the St Nicolas Brownies enthuse about the building from the site gates. It showed what a wonderful place this is going to be for the church and community. Projects like this don’t happen very often, and it’s great to be involved when they do.”

After years of planning and preparation, building work on the Old Grammar School and Saracen’s Head started in February 2007 and saw specialist craftsmen from Linford-Bridgeman carefully restore them to their original splendour using traditional materials, skills and techniques to ensure authenticity and historical accuracy wherever possible. APEC, the architects, working closely with local people, have also ensured that the new wing to serve heritage and community fully complements the Tudor building – a stunning mixture of new and old working together.

Contact Information
Tom Grocott
01564 796200

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