LONG-FORGOTTEN stories of St George’s Bristol will be retold as part of an ambitious project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The funding announcement comes as the Grade II* listed Georgian building celebrates its 40th anniversary year as a performance venue.

Money for this and other Heritage Lottery Fund projects is generated thanks to the support of players of the National Lottery.

The £775,000 grant will help St George’s share its past lives as a Waterloo Church, an air raid shelter in World War 2, and its role in attracting the best musicians to Bristol.

The main interpretation areas will be in the Crypt, and will also cover the history of nearby Brandon Hill, Georgian Bristol and the riots of the 1830s. Money will also be used for essential repairs to the former church, built in 1823, and includes the impressive flight of stone stairs, as well as educational, volunteering and engagement activities.

The registered charity, which stages the world’s best classical, jazz, world and folk musicians, is embarking on an ambitious £5.5 million programme of works.

St George’s Bristol has raised a total of £4 million. Additional £1.5 million needs to come from major donors, corporates, charitable trusts and individuals – especially those who love music and appreciate the building’s unique acoustics.

Due to be completed in October 2017, the heritage visitor attraction and café bar will become an all-day venue and will be free to visitors.

It is expected to attract a wide range of visitors from audience members to families, shoppers from Park Street, local residents and businesspeople, schoolchildren and coach groups.

The project includes a pavilion-style extension, designed by award-winning architects Patel Taylor, and with new performance and education spaces, a café bar and full access for people with disabilities.

Called ‘Building A Sound Future’, the project will help safeguard St George’s future as it will generate additional income through the café bar and venue hire.

This latest announcement follows a grant worth £1.76 million from Arts Council England, and the launch of the charity’s Apollo Club for major donors and corporates.

Chief Executive of St George’s Bristol Suzanne Rolt said: “We are thrilled with this announcement of funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“It will enable us to unlock the fascinating history of St George’s – the building, its times, people and musicians – and will help bring new audiences through our doors.

“Also, we will be able to undertake essential and sensitive repairs to the 193-year-old building and undertake educational and volunteering activities.”

She added: “So far we have secured £4 million, but we still need to raise a further £1.5 million. We are calling on Bristol’s leaders, businesspeople, and all who appreciate St George’s special role in attracting world-class musicians, to help us reach this important target.”

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “After 193 years as a church, air-raid centre and concert venue, this National Lottery investment is clearly needed to ensure the historic St George’s Bristol continues to be one of the best places to watch live performance in the city. It’s great to see them take this opportunity to open up the fascinating heritage of the building so that visitors can discover what makes this building what it is today.”