The town hall trust has secured £10,000 funding for the contract from the Somerset Market Towns Regeneration Fund, until March, 2009.
The trust was formed in 2006 to acquire a long lease of the hall from present owners the Co-op and bring forward the restoration and community use of the disused 19th century town hall in the centre of Wiveliscombe.
Following completion of an options analysis the trustees decided to appoint a project manager to take the work forward through negotiations with the current owners and working with architects Quattro Design Architects, of Bristol, on the design.
A feasibility study showed there was a need to address a lack of exhibition and display space in Wiveliscombe, a weakness in the area which impacted on business and development opportunities for artists and craftspeople.
In addition, there were opportunities for social enterprises in the media sector building on the success of 10Radio and Cinema Obscura.
Uses of the hall would complement existing facilities in the local area and were anticipated to provide employment, training, and education opportunities for the local community.
The Town Hall was built in 1840 for the Lord of the Manor at that time, Lord Ashburton, and was designed by the county architect of the time, Richard Carver.
The ground floor, called the ‘Shambles’, housed a fish market, a butchers’ market, and a pig market to the rear.
A ‘grand’ staircase led to a first floor ‘assembly room’.
It was purchased by the Co-operative Society in 1929, following which the ground floor was converted to shop units which are today occupied by the supermarket and by West Country Guns.
The first-floor hall remained as a venue for dances and film shows, with the last public event believed to have taken place in 1958.
For the past 50 years, it has remained empty.
The project manager would also be expected to undertake major fund-raising, including applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other agencies, as well as community involvement, and business planning for arts, cultural, and community uses.
The trustees have asked for tenders from suitably experienced individuals who can demonstrate the necessary skills and track record in developing and delivering heritage restoration projects with an arts focus.
Trust chairman John Bone said: “The tender timescale is short due to the requirements of our funders.”
Tender interviews will be held next week, on Wednesday, December 17, and the contract will start early in January.
More information is available from John Bone by calling 01984 623 441 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting http://www.wtht.org.uk/.
- Our photographs show (TOP) the outside of the old Town Hall, the ground floor of which is now partly occupied by the Co-operative store, and (BELOW) the inside of the hall. Photos submitted.