SOME of Tavistock’s finest historic buildings were open to members of the public for Tavistock Heritage Open Days last week.
The ‘Unlocking Tavistock’s Past’ open days ran through last weekend and there were guided tours of the Victorian Guildhall and police cells led by co-ordinator and qualified archaeologist and historian Andrew Thompson and former policeman Simon Dell who worked in the building.
Andrew said: ‘The events went very very well. We were almost overwhelmed by the numbers of people across the board. I think we are about 50% up from last year’s figures and I think that shows how much interest there is particularly in the Guildhall and the project there. It was also promising to see how many different organisations were involved.‘
The event may well be one of the last opportunities the public will get to visit the Guildhall building in its current condition. Ambitious proposals to restore the interior and re-open the building as a visitor interpretation centre for the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site have received a stage one pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund so that detailed plans can be developed over the coming months.
Other aspects of the weekend included guided walks with local historian Alex Mettler discovering the hidden secrets of Tavistock Abbey and tours of the impressive Butcher’s Hall and Pannier Market, while the magnificent Italianate Roman Catholic church, built by the Duke of Bedford and refurbished in recent years was also open.
Chairman of Tavistock Heritage John Taylor said: ‘Andrew, Simon and the whole team who gave up their time for free to make the event such a success deserve a huge amount of credit. It was such a popular event. At the Guildhall we couldn’t get any more in and we were getting to the point of turning people away. It was a huge team effort and I’d like to thank everyone who was involved for making it such a good day.’
Pictured above Jacquie Orange leads the tour in the old Butchers Hall in Market Street which was formerly the Auction Rooms, and below, Cllr Harry Smith, and local historians Simon Dell and Andrew Thompson with volunteers in the old Magistrates’ Court.
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