THE LONG-awaited reopening of Reading's Abbey Ruins will take place on June 16 following a substantial conservation project.

More than £3m has been injected into the 900-year-old site, which has been closed for almost 10 years while specialist restore the remains.

The 'Abbey Ruins Revealed' ceremony is being held during this year's Water Fest, the free celebration of the town's waterways.

All of the Abbey Quarter has been carefully considered by contractors in order to preserve the character of the old home of Henry I.

Matthew Williams, manager of Reading Museum, said: "It was founded in 1121 and one of the most important sites in Europe.

"Unfortunately, Henry VIII dissolved the Abbey in 1539 and that is why we have got the ruins.

"We have been working hard to get this right. In the early 20th century, well intended conservation work used the wrong techniques and we have rediscovered Medieval techniques to get it right.

"The 16th is our big day. I think it starts a new chapter in Reading's history. We really want to show off what Reading has to offer.

"We have tried to protect it for the future, but in a way that is sympathetic to the ruins, rather than using harsh modern techniques."

The reopening of the Grade I listed site was made possible through £1.77m funding Heritage Lottery Fund and match funding of £1.38m from Reading Borough Council.

June 16 will be packed with historic themed activities and reenactments, as well as beautifully decorated canal boats and live music for the Water Fest.

Councillor Sarah Hacker, lead member for culture, said: “I am delighted we have been able to combine two fantastic Reading events.

"Water Fest is a much-loved family day out and has been a solid fixture of Reading’s summer for the last 29 years.

"Combining this with the opening of Reading’s Abbey Ruins, with a whole host of historical themed performances and activities makes this a day out not to be missed.”

The Abbey played a key role in the country's history, until Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in the mid sixteenth century.

Kevin Jones, head of conservation at CRL Restoration, added: “It has been an honour and a privilege to work with such a passionate and dedicated team from Reading Borough Council.

"The collaborative approach from all parties has been wonderful, enabling us to deliver a first class project on time, within budget and to the client’s delight."