Eye Town Hall opens after repair works

One of the most distinctive civic buildings in north Suffolk is reopening after nearly a year of repair work was completed.

Work started on the famous Eye Town Hall last year after a group set up to protect it was granted �200,000 by English Heritage, which has overseen the restoration project.

Peter Gould, chairman of the Eye Town Hall improvement committee, which also raised �60,000 from other sources for the work, said the group's sights were now set on landing a �500,000 Heritage Lottery grant to transform the inside of the property.

The huge operation that was recently completed saw work carried out on the roof and the brickwork.

Mr Gould said: 'What we have been doing over the past year is to make the building weather-tight.

'A lot of the work we have done is playing catch-up with maintenance and we can carry on doing bits of patchwork repairs but it comes to the point where we have got to do some serious work.'

The town hall was completed in 1857 and designed by Edward Buckton Lamb. It is home to Eye Town Council and the award-winning country market, which held its first session in the reopened town hall this week.

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Mr Gould said it was important to preserve the building, which is Grade II listed, for future generations to enjoy.

He said: 'I think it's something of a Suffolk icon and it does inspire strong feelings. We want to make it useful for the community in Eye and the surrounding villages.

'It really has not been useable because of the work for the last year but it started to be used again this week. There are various groups that use it on a weekly or monthly basis.'

He said that if the money came through from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) then the building could be transformed into a functional centre at the heart of a community hit by cuts.

He said: 'The idea is that we create a centre which is a social, arts and heritage centre and we should know next week whether we have been granted the money for the development process.

'That would enable us to develop detailed plans and hopefully convince the HLF to grant us the �500,000 to do a serious job internally.'

Other sources of funding for the completed repairs included �10,000 from Eye Town Council, �20,000 from Mid Suffolk District Council and �30,000 from Suffolk County Council.