RESTORATION specialists have been appointed to oversee the multi-million pound project to reopen Reading's most iconic landmark.
Works to reopen Reading Abbey will begin next month with the ruins opening to the public next year.
Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: "The 900-year-old Reading Abbey ruins and gate provide a visual connection to the important, but little known, role that the city has played in European history since medieval times."
The abbey site was closed in 2009 over fears the remaining ruins may collapse.
The gate house will be given a new roof amidst a raft of restoration works.
In December 2015 the lottery gave £1.77million to restore the site. Reading Borough Council will give £1.38million to the project.
Surrey- based CRL Restoration will take on the multi-million pound project.
Kevin Jones, a senior conservation manager with the firm, said: “Our Board and Project Team are proud and honoured to have been awarded this contract to conserve and restore part of Reading's heritage and again make it accessible to Reading residents and visitors.
"We believe it is important to maintain our heritage buildings and structures so that our children, and theirs, can view these structures and hopefully learn from them."
The 900-year-old abbey was founded by William the Conqueror's son Henry I in 1121.
The monarch was buried in the abbey after his death in Normandy.
Radio surveyors think they may have found his body under Reading Prison's car park last year.
The abbey played a key role in the country's history until Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in the mid Sixteenth Century.
Paul Gittings, lead member for culture, said: “In the Abbey, Reading boasts a site of national significance.
"I’m delighted we’ve appointed our main contractor, CRL Restoration, and that work will begin in February.
"I’d also like to welcome the newest members of the Abbey Quarter project team, Jess and Nicolette."
The duo will help offer people the chance to volunteer, enjoy, and learn about the historic site.
Scaffolding will go up around the Abbey Ruins on Monday, Febraury 13 before the safety framework on the Abbey Gateway is turned into a full scaffold.
Conservation work will commence in early March and will be carried out in four phases.
Tony Page, lead Member for strategic environment, said: “Reading’s heritage deserves to be celebrated, as does a site of such historical significance in the heart of Reading.
"By opening it up to residents and visitors the Council hopes many more people will have the opportunity to appreciate the Abbey and its history.
"The HLF award allows us to do that. With this month’s appointment of CRL Restoration, work can now begin in earnest to give Reading Abbey the prominence and platform it deserves."