Guildhall set for next step in £1.2m revamp
Buy this photo » Committee chairman Iain Littlejohn outside the Guildhall
ABINGDON’S Guildhall is preparing to take the next step in a £1.2m revamp which could bring a cinema to the town.
Abingdon Town Council was given £1.2m to take on the historic grade II listed building in April last year.
Vale of White Horse District Council was losing £100,000 a year running the building and the town council said it was in a better position to manage it.
The town council hopes to turn it into a profitable community venue with a cinema club, space for live entertainment, exhibitions, and weddings.
And the Conservative authority is now asking architects to show them what they can get for their £750,000 phase-two budget.
New plans also include a bar, kitchen, a new entrance and lobby, and a revamp of Abbey Hall to include movable seating.
Iain Littlejohn, chairman of the council’s Guildhall committee, said the building was currently only used to between 10 and 20 per cent of its capacity.
He said: “The exciting thing is about the changing use of the building. Today we have a big hall that is let out for functions but it has limitations. What we are planning to create is a community events venue.”
He said the council aimed to reduce the cost burden of the building by making it well used, adding: “The more people who use it, the more money comes through the front door.”
Phase one, a £150,000 restoration of the historic parts of the building dating back to 1440 including The Bear Room, began in January and is now close to completion.
And the council is this week hoping to appoint a £30,000-a-year Guildhall manager to help attract people to the venue.
Work on the next phase is expected to start in early 2014 and finish that autumn.
A revamp of Roysse Court and the magistrates’ court will follow the work on the main building.
Residents can have a look around the restored parts of the building over the Open Doors heritage weekend on September 8 and 9. A wedding fair with tours takes place on September 16.