Before the renovation
Bishop’s Castle Town Council has worked for many years to secure sufficient funding to renovate the Town Hall. Over the years repairs and maintenance had been carried out but the building was becoming used less and less due to its lack of heating, insulation and modern facilities.
A Condition Survey confirmed that whilst the building’s basic structure was sound previous alterations and cement based repairs had damaged its fabric and reduced both the sustainability of the building and its architectural impact. Under extensive cement render and pointing, the fabric was retaining moisture which was damaging and causing the building to be excessively cold. Ill-fitting door and window frames and an inadequate heating system further exacerbated these problems. Access for people with poor mobility or pushchairs was challenging. For anyone in a wheelchair it was impossible to go inside the building.
After many years and many attempts to secure major grants the Town Council was successful in securing £676,800 from Heritage Lottery Fund. This together with awards from the Pilgrim Trust, Shropshire Council, Shropshire Hills Leader Programme and a major local fundraising campaign enabled the Council to finally progress this important project.
During the renovation
In the spring of 2013 the renovation works contract was let to J Harper and Sons and work started on site in June.
There were a number of surprises once the demolition work began, not least the discovery of a solid concrete floor underneath the floorboards in part of the Market Hall. This resulted in the need to remove this completely opening up the Town Hall and the former gaol in the basement for all to see for the first time in probably more than a century.
The site was opened to visitors as part of the English Heritage Open Days in September 2013 and photographs and film captured the building in its rawest form.
After the renovation
Since reopening in 2014 the building has been revitalised as the light and airy feel attracts a stream of visitors to admire the view from the large south window down the street towards the church and surrounding countryside. They take advantage of the helpful visitor centre staff and the many activities in the hall. There are regular art exhibitions, frequent markets, concerts and talks as well as private hire opportunities. Come and see for yourself.