Copeland Council will officially open its new offices in Whitehaven Market Hall today, Monday, February 29, 2016.
To mark the opening, Vulture Club a local charity which supports people in recovery will present a bronze sculpted plaque of the Market Hall as it looked in 1901.
The flagship building now houses several council departments, a brand new reception area and public toilets. Previously much of the building was unused after the Albion Square builders vacated it.
Situated in the heart of the Whitehaven Old Town Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) area - a five year programme of projects which aim to reconnect the Market Place to the heart of the town and harbour, the Market Hall is a key building in the conservation zone. The building is one of a number being brought back into use, increase footfall and make the area feel more like a part of the commercial core of Whitehaven.
The colour scheme for the outside of the building was chosen by the public, following a consultation and online voting. Residents were given several options of colours approved for the conservation area, and chose the cream colours which are popular throughout the town centre.
The Market Hall, a grade II listed building, will be officially opened by Mayor Mike Starkie at 1pm day, Monday, February 29, 2016. The ceremony will include the unveiling of the bronze plaque which has been sculpted by Phillip McHugh on behalf of Vulture Club.
Mayor Starkie said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for us to bring this lovely building back to life, and it made financial sense at the same time. It is now a more central hub for customers and the whole building is in use by our teams, freeing up office space elsewhere to be rented out.
Vulture Club member and artist Phillip McHugh said: "The inspiration for the piece came from the fact that Vulture Club was originally based in the Market Hall and it was here that my recovery took its first steps”
"Depression had robbed me of my confidence and I had not done any sculpting for 12 years, however receiving support from Vulture Club through my recovery has rekindled my love of art and it signifies a renaissance for both me and the Market Hall."
The new reception area offers a more modern environment and added benefits such as an appointments system so residents never have a wasted trip. The council's customer services team still handle general enquiries, and will ensure those needing an urgent meeting regarding benefits or homelessness, will be seen the same day. They will help people make an appointment or it can be done by calling 01946 598300.
The renovation of this well-known building has included a complete refit inside to accommodate staff, plus an exterior make-over including the repair of the clock and a repaint in heritage colours to fit in with the surrounding conservation area. There are public toilets inside and outside the building.
Vulture Club, who will present the bronze plaque of the Market Hall to the council, are a local charity and support group who promote the personal benefits of the creative arts, particularly to adults suffering with substance misuse and mental health issues.
Vulture Club provides a safe place for people overcoming difficult obstacles in their lives, we use arts and crafts as part of our ongoing therapeutic process which encourages recovery in the community and we are proud to be associated with Phillip’s sculpture.