I was invited last week to a meeting of the Gravesham Regeneration Delivery Board, excellently chaired by Mike Snelling, Leader of Gravesham Borough Council. The Board was established to bring together partners from the public and private sectors in Gravesham to work towards common goals on regeneration and economic development, and the meeting was both enjoyable and effective.
However, it was particularly interesting to me that the meeting was held in the newly refurbished Gravesend Old Town Hall. Originally built in 1573, the Town Hall sits in front of one of the oldest markets in the country – originally established in 1268 under a charter from Henry III.
In the early 1800s, the Town Hall was extended at a cost of around £2000 to include two collonades to the rear of the building. Over the years, the building has provided a police station, magistrates’ court, council chamber and even cells. Following a three million pound refurbishment programme, the Old Town Hall is now back to its former glory, providing a home for the excellent Kent Savers credit union; meeting rooms for local community groups, and plans are in the offing to bring a restaurant to the facility. One of the most time-consuming and impressive aspects of this programme was dismantling the thirty foot stone Doric columns because their internal ironwork was rotting.
At a time when so many impressive and imposing public buildings are falling into disrepair, it’s gratifying to see that this one at least has been saved for future generations.