Charity bank has made its 1,000th loan, providing £168,000 to Colchester Archaeological Trust to purchase new premises right beside the site of the Roman circus that the charity discovered in 2004. The building, a former Army Education Centre that was part of Colchester's military garrison, will house an interpretation centre for visitors to the circus as well as providing offices for the Trust’s employees.
The Trust successfully raised £240,000 from the public in a 13 week campaign at the beginning of 2011, and secured a relocation grant of £80,000 from its former landlord Essex County Council. However, it had encountered difficulty in securing the necessary remaining funding.
“We approached the high street banks but unfortunately the building we had chosen, although very solidly built, had no water, no electricity and had been badly damaged by a burst water main several years before,” said Philip Crummy, the Trust’s director and chief archaeologist. “And then there was the fact that we are a small charity. Nobody would touch us. Luckily, Taylor Wimpey, the developer who had bought the property from the army, was very supportive of our project and gave us time to put the finance in place.”
The Trust decided to approach Charity Bank and was met with a favourable response. “Investing in a project like this requires an element of faith,” commented Philip Crummy. “Luckily for us, Charity Bank was prepared to do a bit of believing.”
Carolyn Sims, Head of Banking, Charity Bank, said: "The Colchester Archaeological Trust is an excellent example of the type of organisation that Charity Bank supports. The individuals who deposit with Charity Bank will see their savings grow, not simply in financial terms, but in terms of the enormous social contribution that the Trust provides. The Trust is preserving a very unique part of our history. We look forward to supporting the Trust as it continues to evolve."