Following extensive repair and restoration, the first phase of Bridport Town Hall is now open and welcoming the public.
Town Surveyor, Daryl Chambers, who has overseen the repairs and restoration of the building, said “this project has saved the building from what could have been devastating structural failings. We have worked hard to ensure that the numerous unexpected problems have been resolved without pushing the project over budget or substantially over the timetable for the original work”
Bob Gillis, Town Clerk, said, “The project hasn’t been straight forward and we have uncovered a large number of unexpected problems. The building was structurally in far worse condition than anyone anticipated and it is very fortunate that we have been able to tackle these major problems as part of the project.”
As well as the historic restoration of the building, the project has created level access into the building from Bucky Doo Square and included the installation of a lift. New lighting, heating, and ventilation systems have been installed to make the building more comfortable for users and to protect the historic interior with its newly restored Newbery paintings and murals. On the first floor, a new kitchen, toilets, secondary glazing and IT facilities have also been incorporated.
Councillor Martin Ray, Leader of Bridport Town Council said: “This project has not been simply about saving an historic building but creating a ‘living’ building that welcomes everybody and embodies the vibrancy and character of our town. Thanks to the support of our partners in this project, West Dorset District Council, Dorset County Council and primarily the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Town Council is looking forward in 2012 to realising its long held wish that for the first time in its history, the Town Hall will be open and accessible for everyone to enjoy.”
Later in the week the new ground floor exhibition space will be showing an exhibition charting the progress of the project. Information on the history of the building and the Newbery paintings will be available within the building, both in written and audio format. The whole building is due to open to the public in mid Febrruary.