A Manchester library has been awarded £453,964 to transform its Grade II Listed building and preserve its historic collections.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant will set in motion plans to create an ‘accessible and sustainable’ space for visitors to access arts, books, and history at the Portico Library.
It is hoped that the funding will be the start of a £7m project.
Following an 18-month development phase, the National Lottery Heritage Fund will consider whether to award further funding of almost £4.5m.
The Portico would need to raise a further £2m to fund the project, which would begin in 2025, with plans for the transformed library to reopen in 2028.
Established in 1806 and built in the style of a Greek temple, the Portico has an ‘extraordinary’ heritage, including early members who founded the Guardian newspaper and created the first English thesaurus.
It is hoped that funding will support the library to explore and share this history and preserve its archives, which span 450 years and include a first edition of Jane Eyre.
Library chair John Carpenter said: ‘The news that The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting the Portico Library's bold scheme to open up and share its extraordinary heritage and collection, to Manchester residents and visitors, is a major cultural signal to Manchester, the North and the UK.’
Manchester City Council’s director of culture, Dave Moutrey, added: ‘2023 has been an exceptional year for culture in the city: the reopening of the Manchester Museum, the launch of Aviva Studios – the permanent home for Manchester International Festival, and now news of substantial funding to transform the historic Portico Library.’