St Albans Museum and Art Gallery
Wow – people of St Albans you have a real treat coming your way!
Members of the St Albans Business group (SABs) were invited to get a sneak preview of the refurbished Town Hall this Monday. There was such competition for the five places on the tour, with over 40 St Albans’ Businesspeople competing for the available slots, that names had to be pulled from a hat.
Big thanks to Michelle Becker of Pink Soul Pictures for this incredible video:
Donning high vis jackets, hard hats and steel-capped boots, the lucky five were led behind the hoarding round the town hall and given a tour of the building by Jon Allworth, Construction Manager and Andrew Geldard, Head of Communications, at Wilmott Dixon, the construction company masterminding the project.
The transformation is nothing short of amazing and it’s obvious that a huge amount of care and attention to detail have been taken throughout. A key change has been in the basement, which has been dug out, requiring tons of earth to be moved, partly by hand, to create a gallery space. During the excavation, various archaeological treasures were uncovered, including a 14th century shoe and sheep bones from that period as well as 19th century cattle bones, presumably from the cattle market that used to take place in and around the town hall.
The tour then moved onto the old cells, complete with original graffiti from the prisoners who were locked up there. The cells have now been imaginatively transformed into toilet cubicles. From there, we ascended a short flight of stairs – and found ourselves in the dock! Fortunately no judge was sitting during our visit and we were able to leave the dock as free agents. The courthouse is being lovingly restored and will look very resplendent with its glass dome and the woodwork restored to its former glory.
The rooms are light and airy over both the ground and upper floor and will make a fantastic space to find out about St Albans’ past and the treasures which have been found over the years. We were all particularly taken with the glass lined corridors joining the two parts of the building on the top floor, from which you can get a great view over the roofs of the town. We understand they’re due to be fitted with coloured LED lights, which will make a great addition to the St Albans skyline when seen from outside the building.
The highlight of the tour was the refurbished assembly room, with a beautifully decorated celling and plaster mouldings, and a balcony overlooking St Peter’s Street. When finished, this is going to be a great venue and we’re sure will be much in demand.
We understand the construction work will be finished this March and the museum and gallery, plus café, are due to open in the summer. It really looks like it will be a great addition to St Albans and will be well worth a visit. Thanks for the tour, guys, and we’re looking forward to the opening!
Big thanks to Nicky Weisfeld of Valuing Minds for writing this blog
Photos courtesy of Sue Wybrow of Popdance, Suzy Moody of Home Start Herts, Jo Smiley Hailey of Striking Places and Michelle Becker of Pink Soul Pictures
Thank you for having us St Albans Museums – and Annie Brewster
and a MASSIVE, MASSIVE thanks for Jon and Andy at Willmott Dixon for such a fantastic experience