Wolfson Foundation support for Old College

Old College, Aberystwyth University.  Photo:  Keith Morris

Old College, Aberystwyth University. Photo: Keith Morris

24 July 2019

The prestigious Wolfson Foundation has lent its support to Aberystwyth University’s plans to transform the Old College into a new centre for culture, learning and enterprise by 2022-23.

The London-based foundation has awarded a £250,000 grant towards a new interactive exhibition within the Old College, which will showcase the University’s currently unseen heritage science collections of national significance.

The award is the latest in a series of donations to the University’s fundraising appeal to refurbish the Old College, which opened on the seafront at Aberystwyth in 1872 and was the first home of the University of Wales.

Welcoming the award, Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan, Director of the Welsh Language, Culture and External Engagement at Aberystwyth University, said: “We are grateful to the Wolfson Foundation for this award which demonstrates their early support for our ambitious plans for our New Life for Old College project. The funds will go towards developing a new space in the Old College to house our science collections, as well as items from recent and current research. The Gallery will also host temporary complementary exhibition provided by partners and research collaborators. Together, they will inspire an understanding of the science that shapes our lives and futures, and will appeal to a variety of audiences, including children, family groups, youth and community groups and tourists as well as students, researchers and visiting academics.”

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation added: “I am thrilled to be announcing this funding. We have worked hard to attract applications from across Wales, and to emphasise that we wish to fund great projects wherever they are located. We may have a London address, but we want to sound the message loud and clear: we warmly welcome applications from Wales”.

The New Life for Old College project was initially granted round one development funding by the National Lottery of £850,000 in July 2017, allowing the University to develop in detail its plans for the Grade 1 listed building.

The detailed proposals will be considered by the Heritage Lottery Fund in the autumn, with a final decision on the full funding award of £10.5 million expected before the end of 2019.

The aim is to reopen the building at the beginning of the 2022-23 academic year when the University celebrates its 150th anniversary.

The Wolfson Foundation 
The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity that supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science, health, education and the arts and humanities.

Since it was established in 1955, over £900 million has been awarded to more than 11,000 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review.

New Life for Old College project
The proposed redevelopment of the Old College will act as a catalyst for economic regeneration, creating up to 40 new jobs and attracting over 200,000 visitors every year.

The plans include the creation of a museum telling the story of the first University College of Wales, spaces for art and other exhibitions, a science and discovery centre, conference and debating facilities, teaching and seminar rooms and a 24-hour study space for students.

Working with project partners including National Museum Wales, Hay Festival, National Library of Wales and Ceredigion Museum, the University will showcase Welsh language and culture to international audiences and programme activities for families and schools.

The stunning wood-panelled Old Library will be used as a space for events and festivals as well as offer a wedding venue and the upper floors will offer high quality, four-star accommodation in 33 rooms.

Other features of the redevelopment include 12 new business units with European Regional Development Funding through the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), as well as artist studios, community facilities, a bistro-cafe and bar.

In a striking addition to the original plans for transforming Old College, heritage architects have also incorporated into the proposals the two adjoining Georgian villas owned by the University.

A six-storey atrium will be created above and behind 1 and 2 New Promenade, retaining the historic villas but providing contemporary lift and stairwell access to Old College as well as a rooftop function room with stunning sea views.