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Work begins on extending visitors centre at iconic Northampton house

Business, licensing and regeneration

10 February 2022

Charles Rennie Mackintosh House

An £800,000 building extension and garden improvement project is underway at Charles Rennie Mackintosh House, the multi-award-winning visitor attraction in Northampton.

The foundations are now in place for a large, glazed extension, which will expand the gallery space and add a new shop and function area, allowing the venue to accommodate bigger groups of visitors and hold more events, as well as improving disabled access around the buildings.

A new ‘learning garden’ will also be developed on a disused area of land to the rear of the house at 78 Derngate, which is the only home in England designed by the famous Scottish Art Nouveau designer and architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and one of the first examples of the Art Deco Style seen in Britain.

West Northamptonshire Council identified 78 Derngate as an important cultural asset in the Northampton Town Investment Plan and is providing half of the project’s funding from the Towns Fund, which was awarded by central Government last year. The remaining funds were provided by Northampton Borough Council in 2018 and raised by the 78 Derngate Trust.

Cllr Lizzy Bowen, West Northamptonshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth said:

“The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House at 78 Derngate is a one-of-a-kind cultural destination in Northampton’s thriving Cultural Quarter and one of the places we have mentioned in our recent City Bid, because it makes the town so special.

“Not only will these improvements enhance the visitor experience of this major tourist attraction, which welcomes visitors from around the world, but it will also help to ensure the financial sustainability of what is one of Northampton’s most precious heritage assets.”

In 1916, Mackintosh remodelled the interior of 78 Derngate in his iconic Modernist style, for the renowned Northampton model engineer, Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke. The building was meticulously restored in 2002 and in 2019 it was declared Visit England’s ‘Hidden Gem of the East Midlands,’ recognising its unique and outstanding visitor experience.

Mick Young, Chairman of the 78 Derngate Trust, said:

“We welcome the support given by the council and look forward to our visitors relaxing and enjoying the enhanced facilities later this year.”

The project is due for completion by the end of this year, but the house, gallery, shop and tearoom remain open to visitors while work is taking place. To find out more and book your tour, please visit 78 Derngate.

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