Restoration work on Grade II building at heart of St Albans

Scaffolding over the Herts Ad office in St Albans

Scaffolding over the Herts Ad office in St Albans - Credit: Matt Adams/Archant

It is nowhere near as awe-inspiring as the Eiffel Tower but the transformation of a historic St Albans building, now enclosed within tonnes of metal, has prompted one local wit to dub it “Herts Ad Towers”.

Just two years ago this paper moved its headquarters from the industrial Porters Wood off Valley Road to Market Place, opposite St Albans tourist information centre.

The Herts Advertiser editorial team at the 159-year-old community newspaper occupies the Grade II listed building in the city’s medieval core.

But it has been revealed recently that the editorial team faces relocation to a nearby office as the façade has moved and has been gradually pushed forward, effectively starting to separate it from the remainder of the building.

Two months ago St Albans district council, which owns the building, organised scaffolding to be installed at the front of the building.

Richard Shwe, the council’s head of community services, confirmed that the façade of 31-37A Market Place, which dates back to Georgian times, would be repaired.

He explained: “The top parapet of the building has become loose. We are consulting an architect and a conservation engineer on how best to carry out repairs which may entail dismantling and rebuilding the front wall from the first floor upwards.”

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Mr Shwe added that scaffolding has been put up to provide support “for full weather protection for the building and to prevent brickwork from falling”.

The council is likely to seek planning permission from the Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles before beginning the restoration, which is expected to take about six months and cost up to £120,000.

Mr Shwe said: “We intend to use as much of the original brickwork as possible.”

The mammoth amount of metal now enclosing and supporting the structure, both scaffolding at the front and corrugated tin sheeting over the roof, has dramatically transformed its looks.

The prominent framework prompted St Albans stalwart Vanessa Gregory to ask via Twitter: “How is it @Herts Ad Towers with all the scaffolding about?”

Editor Matt Adams responded: “Dark.”

He said the Herts Ad would definitely retain its place as the only newspaper based in the city centre and full details of its new offices would be revealed soon.