Archbishop Officially Opens Blackburn’s new Cathedral Court

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu visited Blackburn Cathedral on Sunday 17th July to officially open the new Cathedral Court.

The opening and blessing of the of the new development followed a celebration Choral Evensong at the Cathedral which was attended by civic representatives from across Lancashire, partners in the development and clergy from the diocese including the Bishop of Blackburn, The Rt Revd Julian Henderson.

During his visit to the Cathedral, Archbishop Sentamu said, “This fantastic development sees the culmination of not just the last 20 years of work but the realisation of William Temple’s original vision that the Cathedral should become a place of influence. It is a fitting tribute that a key part of the development that links the old to the new has been called the Temple Gallery. Creating change to enhance our ministry is a joyous moment to celebrate.”

Hundreds of people attended the service of celebration and saw the dedication of Cathedral Court and the blessing of the development by the Archbishop in a special celebratory outdoor portion of the service.

The development is the first cloisters to be built at a UK cathedral for over 500 years and also marks the final portion of the large scale regeneration of the areas around the Cathedral.

The new Cathedral Court includes residences for the Cathedral clergy and staff as well as a hall of residence for organ and choral scholars. It also includes new public gardens, a library, conference facilities, offices, parking and the new Temple Gallery that links the original Cathedral building to the new cloisters. The building is also home to the new Café Northcote which greatly enhances the hospitality that the Cathedral is able to offer visitors and tourists.  The development has also created the opportunity to create new public areas and gardens that now links the Cathedral directly with a new Cathedral Square, with offices, restaurants and a hotel.

Canon Andrew Hindley, Canon Sacrist, who masterminded the development, said “The opening and blessing of Cathedral Court has been a fitting tribute to 20 years’ of hard work by the team at the Cathedral and the partners that have worked with us to create this transformational development for the Cathedral and the Diocese. Partnership working and the generosity of our donors has finally brought this development to fruition and for this we are truly thankful.”

Bishop Philip North, the Acting Dean of Blackburn, said, “’Sunday was a wonderful evening of celebration and a fitting way to mark the culmination of an incredibly exciting project which places the Cathedral at the heart of the regeneration of Blackburn. It was great to welcome so many local people, funders, clergy and civic guests. But even more pleasing was the huge numbers of constructors who came along, showing that this was for them so much more than just another project.

“The real challenge begins now! We want these new facilities to be a resource for the town, the county and the Churches of Lancashire. Our vision is for the Cathedral to be good news for Lancashire. We’re going to be working really hard now to make this dream a reality.”

Cllr Phil Riley, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive member for regeneration, said: “This historic development is part of the wider transformation of Blackburn town centre and will be enjoyed for generations to come. The opening of Cathedral Court marks the completion of this scheme and I’m delighted and proud of the role the Council has played, alongside partners, in delivering it.”

Partner at Purcell and Cathedral Architect of Blackburn Cathedral, James Sanderson commented: “I am extremely proud to be a part of what has become the catalyst for regeneration in the heart of Blackburn. The Cathedral Quarter Development and new Cathedral Court mark a re-birth to this part of the town centre. It will boost the local economy, enhance leisure and cultural facilities and is already bringing new commercial opportunities to Blackburn. This is a milestone both for Blackburn and for contemporary ecclesiastical architecture, and I hope will act as inspiration to other Cathedrals across the country to show the positive effect of collaborative working between private, public, community and Cathedral stakeholders.”

Nigel Sharp, Operations Director at John Turner Construction said, “We are extremely proud to have been the main contractor for the prestigious Cathedral Court development at Blackburn Cathedral over the last 26 months. Delivering this high quality project brought us the opportunity to combine modern building techniques and materials with more traditional construction methods using natural and reclaimed materials. Local tradesmen, suppliers and materials were used where possible. Working within the Cathedral setting was a satisfying and rewarding experience and with the collaborative can-do attitude of all the stakeholders, the completed Cathedral Court is a credit to everyone involved.”