St Albans eyesore revitalised for Magna Carta promotion

Councillor Brian Ellis in front of the Isis shop where Magna Carta information is now being displaye

Councillor Brian Ellis in front of the Isis shop where Magna Carta information is now being displayed - Credit: Archant

AN EMPTY shop dubbed an “eyesore” blighting St Albans’ historic retail core has had a new lease of life following criticism from tourists and local business people.

The former Isis store, available for lease in a premium location right next to the Clock Tower, has finally had the peeling, waterstained paper lining the inside of its windows for two years stripped away.

The shop, at 1 Market Place, has been temporarily turned into a promotional tool with Magna Carta information and merchandise in the windows.

St Albans is this year hosting a wide range of events to celebrate the document’s 800th anniversary, as the city played a key role in its creation.

The temporary change will please local stalwarts including Eric Roberts, of the St Albans Civic Society, Melvyn Teare, past president of St Albans District Chamber of Commerce, and Alistair Woodgate, chairman of St Albans Retail Forum, who had recently described it as an “eyesore”.

Last week Eric told the Herts Advertiser that the former Isis store looked neglected, while Alistair called for life to be brought back into the historic building.

The store is owned by the Lathberye’s and Raynshaw’s Charity which dates back to the 1500s.

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One of its trustees, St Albans district Cllr Brian Ellis, explained that the previous tenant had defaulted on their lease and while trustees had since been approached by several possible occupants, “it hasn’t materialised”.

He added: “The charity is effectively now under new management, run by a board of trustees, and we are recruiting new trustees to add to our skill-set.”

Cllr Ellis admitted that complications associated with it being a Grade II listed building presented a potential stumbling block for new tenants.

However the shop which has five levels, including a basement with a centuries-old oven, will undergo a revamp to entice long-term tenants.

Richard Raynshaw was a very wealthy man who was a Sergeant-at-Arms for Queen Elizabeth I.