An iconic building in Newcastle town centre has reopened its doors to the public following a refurbishment.
Residents, shoppers and visitors are once again accessing services from a community and voluntary sector hub at the historic Guildhall now that remodelling works are complete. The Borough Council has used funding from Newcastle’s advanced Town Deal to create versatile meeting space on the ground floor of the Grade II listed building – making it more suitable for multiple uses – in order to increase its attractiveness to organisations.
The new-look reception area features a smaller, mobile desk – which creates extra space with the added benefit of being able to reposition or remove it entirely if required – as well as two new meeting rooms, redecorated walls and updated carpets. The new desk has been made using the wood from the old one.
Meanwhile, the foyer, boasting stunning Minton tiles, has also been repainted with new carpets for the stairs.
The planned refurbishment was carried out while the Guildhall, which dates back to 1713, was already closed due to the pandemic.
The additional rooms are already being used by the Shaw Trust to provide employment advice and it’s hoped that they will facilitate more intensive, one-to-one meetings for those receiving support through The WorkShop, a new service delivered by The Realise Foundation. This is based in a unit at the nearby Lancaster Building – which has also been renovated thanks to the advanced Town Deal – and aims to help people gain skills, employment and training.
One of the first events was a recent drop-in consultation session on the Council’s first draft
of a new Local Plan.
Council Leader Simon Tagg said: “I’m delighted that the much-loved Guildhall is open to the public again, complete with alterations to the ground floor and items such as a lovely, curved desk which has been reclaimed from the old one. This magnificent building has always been light, bright and accessible but the latest improvements make such a difference, we’ve optimised the available space to create a flexible area that can be rented out for a variety of purposes. It will be very appealing to a wider range of organisations.
“Now that Covid restrictions have lifted, we’re focusing on building on the successful role we’ve carved out for the Guildhall – as a valuable heritage asset playing a key part in the regeneration of the town centre. This is another great project financed by the advanced Town Deal.”
The Guildhall is currently managed by Support Staffordshire, a county-wide voluntary sector support organisation, while its long-term future is decided. The Friends of the Guildhall are responsible for staffing and letting out the main reception area between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday, when it’s open to the public. It is their aim to take over the running of the building in the future.
As well as Support Staffordshire, other tenants currently include Newcastle-under-Lyme Business Improvement District and Staffordshire Adults Autistic Society.
Jill Norman, North Staffordshire Operations Manager at Support Staffordshire, added: “It’s great to be able to open the doors to the general public again after a 19 month closure. The Guildhall sits at the heart of the town and is a fabulous resource for the community and voluntary sector. We are pleased to be able to play our part in this and to continue offering our advice and support service to the local voluntary and community sector from the building.”
Anyone interested in hiring space at the Guildhall can contact Jill on 07495 736160 or e-mail email@example.com