On the 25th May, Archbishop Justin Welby, Bishop Christopher opened the Sir John Laing Centre at 10am. The new centre is the most significant part of a £3.5 million scheme to develop facilities at the Cathedral. £2.2m was secured from the Cultural Capital Investment Fund from Coventry City Council which is a consolidated fund of contributions from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and Coventry City Council as well as over £1 million in grants or donations from Allchurches Trust, Laing Family Trusts, Friends of the Cathedral, Eranda Rothschild Foundation, Eveson Charitable Trust, Barbara Whatmore Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Wolfson Foundation, Glaziers Trust, the Jerusalem Trust, the John Armitage Trust and individual donations.
The Centre is being named to recognise the significant generous support from the Laing Family trusts to the Cathedral including a contribution to this building and also to the Cathedral ongoing endowment fund. It was the construction company John Laing who built the New Cathedral 60 years ago and the centre marks the special relationship 60 years on.
The John Laing Centre opens to the public on the 25th May and provides a new space within the New Cathedral including for school trips and workshops. It is the first extension to the Cathedral since it was built and will significantly improve its facilities for accessibility and welcome to visitors.
The Very Revd John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry says,
‘The Sir John Laing Centre will make the Cathedral so much more accessible and welcoming to our many visitors who join us for worship, as tourists and pilgrims, or for our many special events. We are immensely grateful to all those whose support has made this possible, and especially to the Laing Family Trusts who have very generously supported not just the building but also our Cathedral Diamond Jubilee Endowment Fund, which will help secure this building’s future as an inspiring place open to all. Sir John Laing’s family have been closely associated with us since Laings were commissioned to construct Coventry Cathedral over sixty years ago, and we are delighted to take this opportunity to formally mark our appreciation of their long standing commitment. We are used to celebrating Sir Basil Spence, our architect, for his design. But without those who turned the designs into reality we would still just have a drawing on paper, so we are very pleased to be celebrating our builders as we name the Sir John Laing Centre, the first significant development to our extraordinary building in its sixty year history.’
The centre was designed by designed by Kelley Christ, the Cathedral’s appointed architect from A&RMÉ, a practice specialising in the conservation and revitalisation of modern listed buildings.
The building was constructed by local construction company Harrabin Construction Ltd, of Coventry.