Reading's Town Hall and Museum has had a bit of a transformation - and more changes are on the way.
Work has started this month on some projects inside the iconic building, including the complete refurbishment of the former 3Bs cafe.
Other alterations coming up in the autumn include the move of the register office's ceremony room to the former box room gallery of the museum.
Other major improvements this year include:
- The upgrade of all toilets by the reception and on the first and second floors;
- The reconfiguration of the reception desk area;
- Improvements to the lift lobby area on the ground floor;
- The completion of the new Story of Reading gallery;
- The creation of a new museum shop;
- The move of the Coroner Court into the Victorian gallery and the relocation of the Victorian schoolroom to the Abbey Gateway;
- General maintenance and improvements throughout the building.
The work is designed to minimise disruption to visitors and staff as far as possible.
The investment at the town hall links to the wider regeneration of the Abbey Quarter, including the newly re-opened Abbey Ruins and improved information points across the town centre.
(Above: Impressions of how various rooms will look at the end of the work - pictures credited to Reading Borough Council)
Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said:
“These are exciting times for the town hall and museum, with some major improvements taking place which will enhance the facilities this venue has to offer. This links to the wider investment we have made in the Abbey Quarter, including the opening of the abbey ruins this month. We envisage the town hall and museum acting as a ‘gateway’ information point for visitors to the quarter and to the wider town.
“Whilst there will inevitably be some level of disruption to its existing use, we have been working closely with our contractors Lakehouse Contracts Limited, to keep any disruption to a minimum whilst the work is completed.”
Cllr Jason Brock, Reading’s Lead Member for Consumer Services, said:
“I’m delighted the work to create a new purpose-built ceremonial suite is progressing well. The move of ceremonies to the Town Hall will improve accessibility and also provide a great choice of backdrops for photographs, including the nearby Forbury Gardens, which is a short walk away.”
Dean Ball, Managing Director, Lakehouse Construction Division, said:
“Lakehouse is delighted to be working on such an important and historic building for the Council. This is a complex and challenging project, which will really demonstrate the collaborative working ethic of our business. Our regional team, based at Andover, are relishing the opportunity of working with Reading Council, end-users and specialist consultants on this key scheme for the town.”