Hepworth Gallery’s new garden is close to completion

Work on the new garden is almost complete.
Work on the new garden is almost complete.

A new donation has brought the Hepworth one step closer to opening a free public garden on the waterfront.

The gallery has so far raised £1.65m of its £1.8m target, which will allow the opening of a public garden and restoration of a small Victorian gatehouse.

Gerald Wilkes, founder of the Wilkes Group, who have donated money to the new public garden at the Hepworth Wakefield. (Picture c/o the Wilkes Group - provided by the Hepworth Wakefield)

Gerald Wilkes, founder of the Wilkes Group, who have donated money to the new public garden at the Hepworth Wakefield. (Picture c/o the Wilkes Group - provided by the Hepworth Wakefield)

The Wilkes Group was the last owner and occupier of the now empty Rutland Mills complex which shares the waterfront site with The Hepworth Wakefield.

The Grade II-listed building has stood derelict for 20 years, but will now contribute to the future development of the waterfront into an artistic hub.

Simon Wilkes, Director of Wilkes Group said: “We were really excited to hear about what The Hepworth Wakefield is trying to achieve on our former site and we wanted to show our support for what will be a wonderful addition for Wakefield. It is a fitting way to remember my grandfather Gerald Wilkes who further developed our group of companies on the site all those years ago.”

The Rutland Mills site will more generally be adding to the art culture of Wakefield, as a project initiated in 2015 aims to regenerate the building in line with the arts led Wakefield Waterfront masterplan.

The heritage of the buildings will be incorporated into a new public space which will host artists, designers and musicians, serving as part of the plan curated by The Hepworth Wakefield.

Olivia Colling, Director of Communications and Development at The Hepworth Wakefield said: “The Wilkes Group’s generous donation to our fundraising campaign has come at a crucial time as we try to find the final £150,000 needed for this transformative project.

“We are so grateful to the people who have already supported our public appeal and hope that many more will feel able to contribute.

“Every penny donated is hugely appreciated and will help us create the only free public garden designed by Tom Stuart-Smith in the country.”