First project of Tavistock's £2.2-million Townscape Heritage Initiative has begun as work starts on Butchers' Hall

By Zoë Uglow   |   Reporter   |
Thursday 19th May 2016 6:00 am
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WORK on Tavistock’s Butchers’ Hall, the first restoration project as part of Tavistock’s £2.2-million Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), has begun.

The work which includes restoring the slate roof, repairing doors, windows and louvres and re-pointing and stonework using traditional methods, will see the building ready to operate as a new market space within the next six months.

Scaffolding went up this week at the site, known to many in the town as the ‘Old Auction Rooms’, and will remain on the building until the autumn.

The Grade II listed Butchers’ Hall is the first in a series of historically important buildings in Tavistock to undergo conservation work as part of the scheme which has received Heritage Lottery funding of £1-million.

The impressive building was constructed for the Seventh Duke of Bedford in the 1860s as part of the re-development of the centre of Tavistock that also included the Pannier Market, Town Hall, the shops on Duke Street and the police station.

Original plans from the 1860s clearly show the Butchers’ Hall in the area of ‘new markets’ and many of the butchers’ tables remain as well as almost all the original features of architecture.

The project is being overseen by Simon Crosbie who has extensive experience of working on historically significant buildings including all those in Royal William Yard, Plymouth.

Mr Crosbie said: ‘This building in the heart of the town will be fully restored to the highest standards to ensure its reuse for the people of Tavistock and will be in a space worthy of its history and architecture.’

When work is complete, it is envisaged that the Butchers’ Hall will be used as a market space.

Wayne Southall, general manager at Tavistock Town Council said: ‘The aim of this project is to bring this unique publicly owned building back into economic use.

‘The Butchers’ Hall will add around 400 square metres of commercial retail space to the centre of Tavistock. At the moment we are looking at uses that complement the Pannier Market and that will honour the building’s past as a market building.

‘The THI investment will ensure that this important building can be used to pull in residents and visitors and regenerate the commercial heart of Tavistock.’

The restoration is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Greater Dartmoor LEAF and Tavistock Town Council.

Sophie Price of Greater Dartmoor LEAF said: ‘The Butchers’ Hall is one of the first projects in the country to have been approved in this new RDPE (Rural Development Programme for England) programme and should bring economic benefit and employment opportunities for Tavistock and the surrounding areas.’

The THI is a partnership of local authorities, businesses and community organisations that aims to restore important historic buildings and public spaces in the town centre –a conservation area and part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Heritage Landscape UNESCO World Heritage Site.

John Taylor chairman of Tavistock Heritage Initiative said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that works to restore the Butchers’ Hall are now starting as the first phase of our heritage led THI regeneration programme for the town centre.’

Tavistock Pannier Market is also due to have restoration work done, with a replacement roof due to be built in 2017 – this was one of many issues touched upon in a new market report released by Tavistock Town Council.

The report, which reviewed the operation and activities of the market over the past six months, revealed that there was a period when the quality of the market faltered due to regular stall holders being either absent due to sickness or having taken annual holiday allowance.

The report read: ‘To maximise revenue these stalls were covered by casual traders, many which were antique and bric-a-brac related wares, it was felt that this had a visually detrimental effect on the Pannier Market.

‘Since this occurrence there has been an upturn in quality of stalls, all traders were asked to think how they present their stall and many new attractive stalls have been added. Tuesday’s and Aladdin Cave (Saturday) are our antiques and collectable days and remain one of our strongest days where footfall is concerned. The new website will allow customers to choose which days they visit with clearly laid out themed days.’

Tavistock Pannier Market has recently become a member of the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) which the market committee believes will be a useful tool in keeping up with market trend.

The committee said: ‘It allows us to benchmark ourselves against some of the leading markets in Britain. It is also useful for training opportunities and recognising current market legislations.

‘We have enhanced our coach driver’s initiative in partnership with Tavistock BID and discussed joint ventures where appropriate.

‘We try to work closely with local organisations such as Tavistock Rotary, TASS and the Chamber of Commerce; these partnerships provide vital opportunities for collaboration and form positive relationships with the the town council.

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