The addition of the upstanding remains of Dudley Castle to the Heritage at Risk register will open up new funding opportunities to secure the historic site for future generations, council and zoo bosses said today.
The castle, a Scheduled Monument and Grade I listed structure, has been added to the register. It identifies sites most in need of assistance in order to be safeguarded for the future. The castle is owned by Dudley Council, and sits on land leased by the local authority to DZC.
Leader of Dudley Council, Councillor Patrick Harley, said: “We have been working very closely with Historic England and the zoo over the past few years to try and find the best solutions to protect the castle for future generations.
“Following visits from Historic England to the town in October last year, we were advised that for Dudley Castle to receive the most amount of help it would need to be added to the Heritage at Risk register.
“We published a vision for Castle Hill in May last year which contained more than £13m worth of proposals to protect heritage assets including the castle.
“During our ongoing negotiations with Historic England, we also submitted a bid to them in March this year for a repair grant for the castle.
“Our bid to them was successful and it will be used to fund initial surveys to inform of the scope and cost of the work needed, for which we will then target further funding opportunities. This may include a joint bid with the zoo to external funders such as the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF).
“Today’s announcement by Historic England has not come as any surprise to us. We have been working closely with Historic England on a targeted and phased approach to the repair of the castle. With it now being added to the register we consider this to be a helpful step, as it will open up new funding opportunities to enable us to secure the future of one of Dudley’s best known landmarks.”
DZC Director, Derek Grove, said: “The Zoo and Castle have been intrinsically linked since 1937, with the combination of heritage and endangered wildlife delivering a unique leisure attraction regularly welcoming over 300,000 visitors a year from across the globe.
“We are delighted to be working in collaboration with Dudley Council, Historic England and the Friends of Dudley Castle on ambitious plans to conserve the 11th century monument as part of the Castle Hill Vision.
“These plans include the restoration of the fabric of the existing structure along with additional engagement features to make the castle’s rich history more appealing to a 21st century audience.
“Being listed on the register means the spotlight will be firmly shining on one of Dudley’s famous landmarks. It will hopefully open up further opportunities to help us safeguard the much-loved romantic ruin.”
Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Historic England, Nick Carter, said: “The aim of the Register is to help aid the protection and conservation of historic sites.
“Whilst the Castle’s inclusion on the Register recognises some decline in the scheduled monument’s condition, we are greatly encouraged by the rapid response of Dudley Council’s conservation team and the team at Dudley Zoo & Castle to find a solution for this important site.
“We have had extremely productive engagement with the council and zoo, and we recently approved a grant of £50,000 to help inform the necessary programmes of repair and consolidation. We are hopeful this work will help us to remove the site from the Register in due course.
“We look forward to working closely with Dudley on these works, as well as the on-going conservation of the wider Castle Hill site set out in their Castle Hill Vision.”