Work begins on first major change to Coventry Cathedral since 1962

Coventry Cathedral’s new annexe will include new accessible toilets, a passenger elevator and a multi-purpose event and education space.

Pictured: A computer-generated visualisation of the south elevation.

Work has begun on Coventry Cathedral’s high-profile new pavilion annexe after a contractor was appointed.

Harrabin Construction Ltd from Coventry won the tender process for the work which will include moving the famous Swedish windows by Einar Forseth into the new build from their current position on the outside wall of the new Cathedral.

The annexe will include creating 12 step-free accessible toilets with disabled facilities and separate baby changing facilities.

A new passenger operated lift to the lower floor will give easy access to the café and a new education centre which will also be used for community and external events.

In 2018 alone, around 16,000 young people visited the Cathedral with their schools and the new education centre will allow students to take part in pastimes, such as messier craft activities which currently can’t be provided since there are no moppable floors and few hand-washing facilities.

The building will also benefit from direct access on the North and South sides when other areas are busy. 

The project is part of a wider four-phase programme of improvements to prepare the Cathedral for events when in time for Coventry’s year as City of Culture in 2021, and is the first major physical change to the Cathedral since it opened in 1962.

Computer-generated visualisation of the north elevation of Coventry Cathedral's new annex.

Pictured: A computer-generated visualisation of the north elevation.

The £3.5 million scheme of improvement works have been mainly funded by Coventry City Council and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Over £1 million worth of funding was raised from Allchurches Trust; Laing Family Trusts; Friends of the Cathedral; Eranda Rothschild Foundation; Eveson Charitable Trust; Barbara Whatmore Trust; Garfield Weston Foundation; Wolfson Foundation; Glaziers Trust; the Jerusalem Trust; the Armitage Trust; and donations from individuals.

The Cathedral were also supported by local law firm Wright Hassall, who provided free legal advice for the contract.

The Very Rev’d John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry, commented: “The 2021 development project at the Cathedral is a hugely significant moment for us.

“It will transform the welcome we are able to give people when they visit and we are enormously grateful to all those supporters who are making this possible.”

Helen Peters, board director at the CWLEP leading on culture and tourism, said: “The annexe is the first major physical change to the new Coventry Cathedral since it opened in 1962 and it will enable even more people from all sections of the community to take part in activities and events or look round this magnificent Grade I listed building.

“The Local Growth Fund was launched to boost the economy and support businesses and this extension will provide a major boost to the Cathedral in the short and long-term.”

The initial demolition work to clear the site began in February 2020 and the main construction work on the annexe started in June following a break as a result of the pandemic.

The building is expected to be ready by May 2021. 

Businesses or individuals interested in supporting the project are urged to contact Matt Feeley, Coventry Cathedral’s Fundraising Manager, at matt.feeley@coventrycathedral.org.uk.