Residents are first among equals at St Albans showcase weekend

Miller Justin James with the diesel engine which helps power Redbournbury Mill

Miller Justin James with the diesel engine which helps power Redbournbury Mill - Credit: Archant

Residents came first last weekend when it came to visiting local attractions as part of an annual event.

Residents First Weekend is held every Janury and enables local people to take advantage of special offers from restaurants through to leisure centres and visitor attractions.

Consequently there was free entry to Butterfly World in Chiswell Green, the Roman Theatre at Verulamium as well as guided walks and different activites at the district’s two main leisure centres, Harpenden and Westminster Lodge.

First time participants Marlborough Road Methodist Church in St Albans were delighted with their decision to take part this year.

They welcomed about 100 visitors over and above churchgoers including the Mayor, Cllr Annie Brewster, whose attention was particularly drawn to a portrait of Ezra Dunham, the builder of the church and Mayor in 1911, wearing the same robes that St Albans Mayors wear to this day. .

Church council secretary, Rona Wightman, said: “It was a lot of work to organise the day but it was very rewarding, especially when first time visitors reacted with such enthusiasm to our historic building.”

The weather meant fewer visitors to attractions open on Sunday but there were still 140 visitors to the St Albans South Signal Box compared with 180 on Saturday and a new trees walk, organised by the district council, had a respectable turnout despite the conditions.

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St Albans council’s head of community services, Richard Shwe, said: “Interest was particularly high in Residents First Weekend this year with an unprecedented demand for brochures beforehand and more enquiries than ever before.

“Despite the mixed weather, many people turned out to enjoy the wide variety of attractions, activities and offers available and the feedback from event organisers so far is positive.”

He added: “Although we have not yet heard back from all the event organisers, many are reporting an increase in visitor numbers from last year. Particularly popular were the dramatised court room trials in the old Town Hall, visits to the 1892 grade-II listed St Albans South Signal Box and tours of St Albans Cathedral Tower.”