Grant boost for St Albans Town Hall museum plan

The christmas lights on The Old Town Hall

The christmas lights on The Old Town Hall - Credit: Archant

A project to convert the Town Hall into a new museum and gallery has been propelled forward with the long-awaited gift of a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) development grant.

St Albans district council has received first-phase development funding of £282,000 which will be used to secure a larger grant of £2.5 million from the HLF.

The vital boost means a proposal can now be developed detailing plans for the museum, which is slated to open over the St Albans Residents First Weekend in 2017.

A total cost of around £6.75 million is needed for the development, which will be raised between the council and the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust, with community fundraising set to commence next May.

This was the second time the council has applied for a grant from the HLF after failing on their first application back in March due to a high demand for funds. They have until November 2015 to submit the plans for the project to receive the second-phase grant.

Michael Gray, chairman of the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust, said: “The development grant from the HLF is an amazing boost to our plans to create a new home for the Museum of St Albans. It will place it in the hub of the city.

“The funds we raise for this scheme will transform an historic landmark building into an inspirational museum and gallery for the community.”

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The new museum and cultural centre will feature a brand new basement gallery and tourist information centre, as well as drawing on existing historical attractions in the building such as the court room and prison cells.

New exhibition rooms will also be atmosphere and security controlled which will give the city the opportunity to showcase high profile national collections.

Cllr Mike Wakely, portfolio holder for sports, leisure and heritage for the council said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a heritage centre that will attract visitors from across Hertfordshire and beyond to see St Albans’ heritage.”

Mayor of St Albans district, Cllr Annie Brewster, said: “This is the most exciting opportunity for St Albans, a grand central site that will showcase what we are about, then and now.

“I see no reason why we should not be attracting new and exciting exhibitions of the quality of Damien Hirst of David Hockney for example in the near future.”