TAVISTOCK heritage experts are taking a softly-softly approach to opening the town’s Guildhall visitor centre to minimise any lingering risks from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The town’s heritage trust, partners with Tavistock Town Council in turning the listed building into a ground-breaking visual and audio interpretation of the area’s mining history, will be opening on December 4.

But Dr Geri Parlby, chair of the Tavistock Heritage Trust, said entry would be limited to people who had booked their tickets ahead of their visit, which would happen according to a timetable to give each group a chance to move on.

Dr Parlby said that approach would be taken because of ‘covid requirements’ and added: ‘We have already got quite a lot of bookings, which is great and hopefully by the New Year, we will be able to do it in a less regimented way.

‘It’s really important to get it right from day one and to get it right as far as Covid requirements are concerned and also it’s a great way for the stewards to see the pinch-points (in the building) and work around that to improve the experience for our visitors. It is a soft opening of the Guildhall, but it’s free entry, so we’re not expecting people to pay to come in and it will give us the chance to get feedback where people can tell us what they like, or don’t like and how we can improve it.’

Work on the £1.8million project started in 2019, but its opening date was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It will provide a gateway centre for the Cornwall and West Devon Mining World Heritage Site.

The Guildhall and adjoining buildings — Trowtes House and the old police station and magistrates court — has been transformed into the new centre which will explain the impact that mining had on the development of the town and what life was like as a miner in the 19th century using up to the minute audio and visual techniques.