Bridport Town Hall has reopened following the completion of a £1 million refurbishment project.
The Bridport Town Hall Heritage and Conservation project was implemented by Bridport Town Council and was designed to rejuvenate the building and improve accessibility. The hall officially opened in January 2012 and will now offer local residents full access to the building six days a week.
As a Grade I listed building, Bridport Town Hall is one of the most prominent features of the town centre. However, it had sadly become a building that was severely underused because of outdated entry and access points. This problem has now been rectified by the introduction of a number of key features, including improvements to the ground and first floors and the installation of a DDA compliant lift.
The refurbishment project began in January 2011 and included a number of remedial works that have served to improve structural support. Additional improvements included the construction of a new stone floor, the installation of new facilities and the creation of a new ground floor exhibition area. Heating and lighting systems were also replaced, whilst a new sound system was installed and general decorating work was undertaken for fixtures and fittings.
External work on the building included re-pointing brick work using lime mortar and repairs to the clock tower, weather vane and roof.
Framptons of Bridport, a local butcher that shares ground floor space with the Town Hall, remained open for trade throughout the refurbishment project.
One of the key features of Bridport Town Hall was a set of public toilets housed on the ground floor. However, it became necessary to remove these in order to make way for the new lift. As the removal of the toilets was a particular concern for the local residents, Bridport Town Council came to an agreement with West Dorset District Council to replace the toilets with brand new facilities at another location in the town centre.
West Dorset District Council has provided funding for the new toilets and they will open in April 2012. Temporary toilets will be available in the meantime.
Main contractor for the project was Farnrise Construction, whilst Daryl Chambers MCIOB was the project manager and Jonathan Rhind was the architect. The electrical consultant was Slade Associates and the structural consultant was Brody Forbes Partnership.
Bridport Town Council Town Clerk, Bob Gillis, said:
“The refurbishment of the Town Hall and the need to make this Grade I listed building fully accessible had been a long standing objective of the Town Council and the local community.
“As part of the consultation process we got some great feedback from local groups and the general public about what they wanted to see and this then helped us to shape the end result.
“We have now opened up the rear of the building and introduced a lift in order to enable full public access to the Town Hall. This will allow people to enjoy the building and see the collection of Newbery paintings on the first floor and attend events and exhibitions throughout the building.”
He added: “We’ve only been able to achieve our goals thanks to the support of our partners, including West Dorset District Council and Dorset County Council. In particular, the Town Council extends its thanks to our main funder, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
“Now that the Town Hall is open, Bridport Town Council is committed to making sure that it continues to be used by local groups and local people. This project has been very important, both for opening up this historic building and for the essential structural work that will ensure the preservation of the Town Hall for the future.”