Winding back the clock to 2004, Watts Gallery was listed by English Heritage as ‘at risk’. We faced the mammoth task of raising over £10m to restore a crumbling gallery, to make it more accessible, to conserve and enhance the collection, to extend the education and outreach work, to establish a centre for exploring Victorian art, social history and craft, and to ensure its financial future.
It was to G F Watts’s most famous work, Hope, that a generation turned to when it was first displayed and that we turned to again to guide us on our mission to rescue the gallery. The Hope Appeal raised £11.2m as a result of the extraordinarily generous support from funders, starting with a donation from the gallery’s neighbours Peter and Marian Williams to restore the aging boiler.
We remain indebted to National Lottery Heritage Fund for its grant of £4.9m and the myriad of benefactors, donors, trusts and foundations for rescuing and reinstating Watts Gallery and providing the catalyst to reuniting Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village with a commitment to safeguard its future for the next hundred years.