Cardiff's Insole Court gets £2m lottery restoration boost
Volunteers helping to restore a Grade II listed mansion in Cardiff are celebrating securing a £2m Heritage Lottery grant to fund the work.
Insole Court Trust says the pledge marks a new phase in the story of the Victorian home and gardens in Llandaff.
Last year it won planning permission to repair the stables for community and educational use in a £761,000 project.
But metal thieves recently targeted the home for a fourth time in just over a month which could add to the costs.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) said Insole Court and its gardens was regarded as a symbol of south Wales' rich industrial past.
It was built in the 1850s by colliery owner James Harvey Insole who extended the mansion and developed it over the years, adding a tower based on the one at Cardiff Castle.
Now, Cardiff council is working on a £5m restoration project with the trust to restore it to its "former splendour, and also create a community hub" with heritage tours of the house run by volunteer guides and tour leaders.
"We're all delighted," said trust chair Sir Norman Lloyd Edwards.
"The restoration and building work can now begin as we enter a new and exciting phase in the story of Insole Court, which has finally been secured for, and on behalf of, the local community."
Seven jobs will be created with the funding, including a full-time management position and part-time roles to help manage 100 volunteers, social enterprises, marketing and events, learning and outreach, and site administration.
The trust was formed by members of the local community in 2011 with the aim of returning the building to its former glory and expanding its current community use.
As part of the project, the management of the house will be transferred from Cardiff council to the trust.
Neil Richardson, project director for Insole Court Trust, said: "The money released will allow us to redevelop Insole Court and to put the entire estate back into full time productive use.
"At the moment it's quite derelict and only small parts of the estate are open to the public so this will allow us to redevelop the estate, restore the estate and and make it available to use by the public again."
Mr Richardson said the estate was an "undiscovered treasure".
"It is one of those grand estates that was built on the industrial heritage of south Wales," he said.
HLF Wales chair Dr Manon Williams said: "The Insole Court Trust has shown how communities can play a crucial role in protecting their local heritage, ensuring the stories and buildings from our past are saved and shared."
The grant will fund repair work to the mansion's interiors, opening up rooms that have been closed for more than 30 years.
It will also be used in a new learning and events programme to help attract an additional 30,000 visitors per year.
Mr Richardson added: "This is an important step towards the renewal of Insole Court but there is still a great deal of hard work ahead."
The fundraising group now needs to raise £500,000 to show community support for the project.
News of the lottery grant will boost morale among fundraisers who were left counting the cost of lead thieves who targeted the porch roof last week, leaving the building at the mercy of torrential rain.
They fear repairing the damage could run into tens of thousands of pounds.