Government Awards £1 Million to Transform Bristol’s Jacobs Wells Building

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In a significant development, Bristol’s Jacobs Wells building, formerly known as the Bristol Community Dance Centre, has secured a substantial boost for its restoration project. A grant of £1,050,000 from the Department for Levelling Up’s Community Ownership Fund has invigorated the campaign to convert the Grade II-listed structure into a community arts center by 2025.

Initiated a year ago, a coalition comprising local artists, councillors, the Hotwells and Cliftonwood Community Association, and the Trinity Centre music venue in Old Market joined forces to save the historic site. Faced with the imminent sale of the Victorian building by the council, these diverse groups rallied to raise funds for its purchase, restoration, and preservation as a community asset.

The Trinity Centre, a driving force behind the campaign, expressed gratitude for the substantial boost from the government fund. A spokesperson for the Trinity Centre stated that Jacobs Wells was now “one step closer to being revived in 2025.” The generous investment is expected to bring the community’s vision of transforming the derelict space into a vibrant arts hub to fruition.

The £1.05 million grant supplements the £400,000 already secured through contributions from prominent Bristol benefactors, including the Nisbet Trust and the John James Foundation. Additional contributions have poured in through an online fundsurfer appeal, with organizers proudly announcing a quarter-way achievement towards the £5,000 target.

A representative for the Trinity Centre highlighted the significance of the grant in advancing the ambitious recovery effort. The spokesperson expressed gratitude to the Department for Levelling Up’s Community Ownership Fund, match-funders, and supporters for aligning with the shared vision. The community was urged to continue its support, with the spokesperson stating, “We still have a way to go to achieve the vision to revive the building and urge people to pledge what they can and be part of the future of Jacobs Wells.”

The Jacobs Wells building, originally a Victorian swimming baths facility, transitioned into a dance studio for 35 years until its closure in 2016. Following the closure, the council found itself allocating substantial funds monthly to maintain the vacant building. In January, the council signaled its intention to sell the property, a decision officially confirmed in June.

Campaigners dedicated to saving the historic site expressed frustration during the initial stages of the sale process, but by July 2023, a breakthrough occurred with the approval of a Community Asset Transfer to the Trinity Centre and the coalition of campaigners. The subsequent focus shifted to the formidable task of raising funds for the extensive restoration, a challenge the community is now actively undertaking.

The restoration project not only aims to breathe new life into the architectural gem but also envisions Jacobs Wells as a bustling community arts hub, fostering creativity and cultural engagement. The grant from the Department for Levelling Up’s Community Ownership Fund is a pivotal step towards transforming this vision into reality, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing journey to reclaim and revive Bristol’s historical gem.

Elliot Preece
Elliot Preece
Founder | Editor Elliot is an experienced journalist manager with a passion for writing. He played a pivotal role in building the News Write Ups website as a web developer and has since been leading the team of journalists to produce high-quality content. With his strong background in writing and web development, Elliot ensures that the website not only functions smoothly but also provides engaging and informative articles for readers.

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