City of Winchester Trust
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The English Centre at Winchester - TrustNews March 2007

The aim of the English Centre is to create a world-class attraction in Winchester enabling visitors from all over the world to see, hear and experience the global evolution of English from a mixed tongue of three tribes to the shared speech of two billion people.

Through an exciting variety of exhibits and facilities, many of them interactive, the English Centre will embrace the enormously varied forms of English from across the ethnic, social and geographical spectrum. It will show how English has been a vital tool of communication, constantly adapting to new demands and circumstances and meeting the world’s need for a common ‘second language’.

The proposed site for the Centre would be the Woolstaplers Hall at the heart of the new Silver Hill development. As a nineteenth-century warehouse it has ideal proportions and spaces for our needs and it will act as a cultural anchor to the town centre enhancing Winchester’s core offer of cathedral, college and castle. The target date for opening is Spring 2012 to enable the Centre to be part of the ‘cultural programme’ linked to the London Olympic games.

We currently have the support of Winchester City Council, Winchester Cathedral, Winchester College, and Winchester University. For example, at the end of 2006 the University funded a feasibility study by consultants Leisure Catalyst which projected that the Centre should attract 100,000+ visitors a year and that this would generate an adequate income stream to cover all costs and to invest for a regular renewal of the exhibition content. Meanwhile Haley-Sharpe, a leading exhibition design company, has provided us with our first images of what might appear in the Centre.

Our next, development stage involves the commissioning of a concept and design brief, a capital costs study, a business plan and a fundraising Plan. This stage is being funded by local money. The implementation stage will be financed by a national and international fundraising campaign.

The Centre is being registered as a charitable company limited by guarantee under the name ‘The English Centre @ Winchester Ltd’. The Directors of the company, all residents of Winchester, are Professor Christopher Mulvey (Chair), Evelyn Thurlby (Company Secretary), Julian Chisholm, Edward Fennell, and Cllr. Dominic Hiscock.

The proposed project has been described by professionals as unique and compelling. Beachcroft, a London law firm with a branch in Winchester, which has agreed to undertake the legal work for the English Centre on a pro-bono basis, says ‘We are proud to be associated with a project involving learning, quality and heritage’.

For more information contact: christopher.mulvey@winchester.ac.uk.

Professor Christopher Mulvey