Major improvement plans for Jewry Wall

Jewry wall

Leicester's finest Roman remains could become a top-class visitor attraction under new plans to improve the historic site.

Leicester City Council has already begun work to improve Jewry Wall Museum, including creating better public access and improving the condition of the site, which features one of the tallest surviving pieces of non-military Roman masonry in the UK.

But the improvements could now be taken a step further, with ambitious plans to radically improve the museum buildings adjoining the ancient archaeological site and the interpretive material housed inside them.

The city council is starting the process of choosing suitable museum design experts to draw up proposals to combine and improve the existing Jewry Wall Museum and the adjoining Vaughan College buildings, which the city council purchased from the University of Leicester in summer 2015.

Based on the sorts of costs typically required to create a world-class visitor attraction, the wider improvements could cost about £5million and would be expected to at least triple the number of visitors to the complex.

Worked up designs are expected by the autumn, at which point the council will decide whether to proceed, including an assessment of the potential for significant external funding.

Meantime the current plans, which will cost about £1.5million, will create a level access walkway from St Nicholas Circle to the entrance of Vaughan College, and install an internal lift and staircase linking the upper floor with the museum below.

They will also include works on the museum and building façade, and improvements to St Nicholas Path that runs between the Jewry Wall and St Nicholas Church, revealing the old cobbles which have been covered by a modern asphalt surface.

The museum buildings will be cleaned and repainted, and the interpretation and presentation of the Roman bath house site, including Jewry Wall itself, would be improved. Archaeological investigations, in preparation for the improvement works, are also due to take place once Government permission has been granted.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Jewry Wall Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and is housed in a 1960s listed building, part of which was also Vaughan College.

“Acquiring the whole site in 2015 means we now have the opportunity to refresh, renew and expand the museum by integrating all the buildings, as well as improving public access.

“We will also be looking carefully about how we can vastly improve interpretation of this fantastic Roman site, which is why we’re going to bring in museum design experts.

“We want to make it somewhere that tells the story of Roman Leicester and will be one of the best places for understanding Roman Britain.

“Leicester has a fascinating history, and bringing it to life in this way will further help put our modern city on the map, as well as bringing in significant economic benefits.”

Jewry Wall Museum and site includes one of the largest surviving Roman walls in the UK, and the extensive site of a Roman bath house, along with a city council-run museum.

In addition to its Roman collections, it tells the story of early Leicester from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages.