Designs revealed for Jewry Wall revamp

Published on 12 January 2017

STUNNING designs have been revealed for a project to transform the site of Leicester’s biggest Roman ruins into a world-class visitor centre.

Jewry Wall Museum, which opened in 1966, is home to one of the UK’s tallest civilian Roman structures, along with the impressive remains of a Roman bathhouse.

Last year, City Mayor Peter Soulsby announced plans to invest in the Jewry Wall site, and the neighbouring former Vaughan College buildings, which the council purchased in 2015, into a major new tourist attraction.

Now the first designs have emerged showing how the new visitor centre could look, and how it could tell the fascinating story of life in Leicester during Roman times.

Designs include breath-taking outdoor projections onto the Jewry Wall itself, showing moving images of Roman Leicester, and a welcoming new entrance foyer.

Once inside, visitors will also be able to wander through a recreation of Leicester’s Vine Street Villas, which occupied part of the Roman city near the site of the modern day Highcross car park.

There will also be interactive displays on the Roman invasion and occupation of Leicester, which accelerated multiculturalism as soldiers and traders from across the Mediterranean and North Africa settled in the city.

The designs have been drawn up as part of a major investment in the Jewry Wall site, which has involved putting more than £1.5million aside to create a new public ramp/walkway from St Nicholas Circle, as well as improvements and enabling works at the site. 

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Jewry Wall is a very important part of the city’s Roman history, but the site and the museum itself, which is 50 years old, are looking tired and in need of updating. 

“Vaughan College itself is a listed building, and also deserves better.

“We’ve now got so many visitors coming to Leicester that we need to think about how we can make Jewry Wall into a visitor centre of national significance, which would give people another reason to come and spend money in the city. 

“We’ve commissioned a company to look at how we can achieve this. They have come up with some very interesting ideas, but they are just ideas at this stage.

“Designs of this type would not come cheaply. The fit out of the building to a world-class standard could cost about £3million, and we would also need to invest in the fabric of the building itself.

‘So while we are considering the ideas put forward, we need to explore how we could fund them.”

Plans include a new café overlooking the Jewry Wall which would be open to all visitors. The main lecture hall on the upper floor is intended to be both part of the museum experience when the attraction is open, and capable of staging meetings, performances and other events during the evenings when the museum is shut.

Proposals also include continuing to use the grounds for free Friends of Jewry Wall special events.

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NOTE - Images of designs available from press office.