Occupation of Bourne’s disused Georgian Town Hall was officially handed over to a new local charity, set up to restore it to its former glory, at a special ceremony last Friday.
The event celebrated the formal signing of the documents that will pass the administration of the building to the charity, plus a ceremonial presentation of the keys by Lincolnshire County Council, the current custodians of the building.
The event was attended by many supporters of the project and local dignitaries, including Martin Hill (Con), the leader of Lincolnshire Country Council, Bourne’s Mayor Paul Fellows, and David Brailsford (Con), the chairman of Lincolnshire County Council’s Bourne Town Hall Management Committee.
The building, constructed in 1821, has now been placed in control of the Bourne Town Hall Trust, which has been set up to fully renovate the building before sympathetically converting it into a community arts centre for the town and surrounding villages.
Coun David Brailsford said: “Bourne Town Hall has had an interesting past, and a variety of uses over the years.
“I’m pleased to say that by leasing the building to the trust, we are hoping it will also have an exciting future.
“The best thing is for Bourne Town Hall to be back in regular use by the community, as we enter a new era for the building.
“In the longer-term we hope to be able to hand the building over formally to the trust when, as the current trustee, we feel its future is secure.
“For now though, I’m looking forward to seeing how the trust’s ideas take shape and wish them every success.”
Bourne Town Hall has been empty since 2014 when it was last used as offices for South Kesteven District Council. It also formerly housed the town’s magistrates’ court.
The trust now has to raise the funds to see the project through to completion, which will include reinstating the original clock tower, which was destroyed by a fire in 1933.
The trust also announced on Friday that the project has been awarded £10,000 early-stage funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, as well as a further £5,000 from The Architectural Heritage Fund.
Both organisations have awarded the trust “start-up” grants to help establish the charity and employ a conservation architect to carry out a preliminary viability report on the project.
The trust has also had support from Heritage Lincolnshire, which helped them to bid for the grant funding.
Chairman of the trust, Charles Houseago said: “Today marks a major milestone in our project to restore the Town Hall and convert it into an arts centre for the whole of the local community to use and enjoy again.
“We have been working hard behind the scenes for nearly two years to reach this point. Now the trust is formally in control of the building we can push on and deliver the exciting vision that we have laid out.
“Lincolnshire County Council has given us magnificent support so far in helping us to maintain the building while it was empty and we are extremely grateful to them.
“We are also delighted that they have pledged to continue to assist us in delivering this exciting community project.
“We must also thank Bourne Town Council for their fantastic support over the past two years, and local solicitors, Double and Megson, who donated their time to help complete the legal undertakings.”
Carl Andrews, of Soul Architects, has been appointed following a tendering process to help with a 12-week viability study.
The trust is hoping to have the work completed by the hall’s 200th anniversary in October 2021.
The trust is still on the lookout for enthusiastic volunteers who can help it raise the funds. In addition the team is specifically keen to bring on board a trustee with financial qualifications or experience.
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