It will be a new year and a new era for Kirkintilloch Town Hall, which is opening its doors again after a major multi-million pound restoration, rejuvenation and extension project.
The B-listed building will be a centre for heritage, arts, culture and community use - blending past, present and future - including:
- Main hall - offering flexible auditorium and events space (17m x 16.5m) with a potential capacity for 300 people, lighting and portable staging
- New extension - containing lesser town hall (8.8m x 18m), reception and offices
- New reproduction ceiling - moulded from original designs - and proscenium arch
- New flooring throughout
- Repaired and restored external stonework
- Kitchen, store room, toilets and locker room
- Wheelchair access and lift between ground floor and first floor
- Stained glass feature - preserved from the original town hall.
The Council worked with development partner hub West Scotland, Central Building Contractors (CBC) and East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture (EDLC) Trust to develop the design since the start of 2015, as well as Michael Laird Architects, Doig + Smith, Struer, David Narro and Hawthorne Boyle.
Construction work took place between May 2016 and September 2017.
First-floor balcony seating and the old stage - which were in poor condition - were removed, as were soft furnishings, and redundant floors and walls.
The £5.5m project was funded by East Dunbartonshire Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish Government.
An industrial heritage display and flexible exhibition/activity space is currently being created on the first floor of the town hall - celebrating the heritage of Kirkintilloch and its people.
EDLC Trust will be providing a programme of co-curated exhibitions with local groups as part of the Made in Kirkintilloch project. There will also be creative activities for visitors.
The building will be open from early 2018, with an official opening being held later in the year.
Councillor Gordan Low, Leader of East Dunbartonshire Council, said, "A new era is dawning for Kirkintilloch Town Hall, which has been rejuvenated and extended after major works.
"It was important that the town hall was restored while retaining as many original architectural and heritage details as possible.
"We have liaised with a variety of partners in the community - in both public and private sectors - to secure support and deliver the project. Well done to all involved."
The completed town hall forms part of a wider Heritage Quarter in Kirkintilloch which also includes Peel Park, the Auld Kirk Museum/Barony Chambers, and William Patrick Library and Archives.
Kirkintilloch has a rich industrial past - from the Lion Foundry and its iconic red telephone boxes to the world-famous Puffers which once sailed the Forth and Clyde Canal.
Sandy Marshall, Chair of EDLC Trust, said, "The flexibility of the new-look town hall is key - allowing it to be used for cultural events, community meetings, weddings, commercial lets and more. There has already been a huge amount of interest in the new building.
"As well as being a first-class venue, the town hall will raise awareness of Kirkintilloch’s historic past and heritage.
"Made in Kirkintilloch is an exciting project which aims to provide a fascinating glimpse into the history of the town - engaging with individuals, groups and schools across the community to uncover a treasure trove of information and objects."
Indeed, CBC discovered artefacts on-site during the construction process - including a Roman nail and a piece of pre-glaze Roman Samian ware - both potentially dating back to around 160AD or earlier.
Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said, “Thanks to National Lottery players this project is delivering a vibrant, multi-purpose community hub in the very heart of Kirkintilloch.
"Residents will be able to take part in a host of community activities in a wonderful historic setting. Additionally, locals and visitors to the town will be able to learn more about the rich past of this part of East Dunbartonshire thanks to the new heritage discovery centre."
The town hall was identified as a priority in the Council's Kirkintilloch Masterplan, following detailed community consultation, and then included within the Council's 10-year Capital Investment Programme.
Iain Marley, Chief Executive of hub West Scotland, added, "We were delighted to work with East Dunbartonshire Council on this exciting project - transforming Kirkintilloch Town Hall into a flexible, contemporary space for the whole community to benefit from."
The town hall was opened in July 1906. It closed its doors in 2004 and since then efforts have been ongoing to see it revamped and reopened.
The overall project cost approximately £5.5m - including £666,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The western extent of the site lies within the defined boundary of the Antonine Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and approximately 75m to the east of one of the Antonine Wall's forts which also contains the earthworks of the medieval Kirkintilloch Castle.
Information on how to book facilities will be confirmed soon. In the meantime, if you have any queries, e-mail www.booking.edlc.co.uk/Horizons/culture or call 0141 777 3143.