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Major Thetford Guildhall Heritage Hub project set to start

A major project to transform a Thetford building into a heritage and tourism asset is set to start.

Thetford Town Council has agreed the tender for captial works to create the Guildhall Heritage Hub.

The Heritage Lottery Funded project will see the Grade II-listed Guildhall become a heritage hub, while the Market Place will be regenerated.

The Guildhall, Thetford Picture by Mark Westley. (35925383)
The Guildhall, Thetford Picture by Mark Westley. (35925383)

Works will include:

n Development of a successful community tearoom/information centre pilot, including a heritage display about the famous people relating to the history of the Guildhall

n Education programme and community engagement activities

n Training for volunteer educators, researchers, archivists and tour/exhibition guides

n Employment of a heritage officer for the project’s duration

n Creation of a display telling the civic story of the Sikh royal family in Thetford, including paintings from Prince Frederick’s collection and talking portraits of Princess Sophia and Prince Frederick telling visitors about their life and times

n Restoration of two cupola towers, restoration and remodelling of the Guildhall – including the toilets – and improved access.

Mayor Mark Robinson said: “The Guildhall has been part of the fabric of civic life in Thetford for centuries, I’m delighted this project enables us and future Thetfordians to enjoy this historic building for many years to come.”

The town’s Market Place has seen a significant decline in traders, with revenue dropping by 25 per cent over the last three years.

Thetford Town Council said it would be taking action within the project to halt the decline in usage of the public space.

Meanwhile, three Sikh community festival events in 2018/2019 had led to interest in developing the heritage information for Sikh visitors.

The town council is keen to build on this momentum, installing a permanent tribute to the contribution made by the Duleep Singh family.

Cllr Jane James, chairman of the civic committee, said: “I am delighted this project is now able to move to its next phase.

“This development will help to ensure that while looking back in preserving part of our rich heritage, we look forward – adapting it sympathetically for future generations to ensure it remains the heart of the town through the sharing of Thetford’s civic legacy and its continuing significance.”

The council is working on the project with partners including: Norfolk Museums Service; Norfolk Library Service; Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail; Access Community Trust; Stuart Wright – Thomas Payne Society and Dad’s Army Museum; Peter Bance – Maharajah Duleep Singh archivist and writer; Nicholas Warns Architects; Eastern Multi-Academy Trust; Loughborough University and Breckland Council.

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