On Friday 28th February, HRH Prince Charles attended the newly restored Town Hall in the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil. In anticipation of the grand St David’s Day opening, Prince Charles toured the restored Town Hall and met with the architects, project managers and community members involved in the extensive restoration.
The Old Town Hall, which had fallen into disrepair, has been re-named the Redhouse Arts Centre, and will serve as a multi-disciplinary artistic space complete with a 120 seat theatre, multi-purpose atrium courtyard space, dance studio and recording studio. As a Grade II* listed Victorian building, restoring the space to a working centre proved to be a considerable challenge for the construction teams involved.
Managing director of PG Stage, Paul Holt, oversaw the entire technical performance facility installation, including delivering Carr & Angier Theatre Consultant’s design of the new Dowlais Theatre, which resides in the former court room and council chamber. PG Stage worked for Graham Construction on this prestigious project.
Paul Holt travelled down from PG Stage’s Manchester-base to meet with the Prince before the official opening.
The project, which began in 2012, was facilitated by an £8 million grant provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, EU Regional Development Fund, CADW, Merthyr Tydfil County Council, Miller Argent Ltd and the Welsh Government. As well as a valuable addition to the local cultural scene, the Arts Centre will additionally act as an educational hub, with the College Merthyr Tydfil basing their Creative and Performing Arts Department in the new centre.
HRH Prince Charles was shown around the centre and told about its unique history before meeting with the guests. During his personal tour both the original features, such as the old cells and unique tiling, and the new facilities received equal emphasis.
As a project centred on community determination and dedicated funding, the visit proved to be a highly celebratory day for local residents, staff and students at the college and all outside contractors who worked on this challenging restoration.
Paul Holt has commented:
“We feel very privileged to have been a part of restoring Merthyr Tydfil Town Hall to become an outstanding performance venue for the community and breathing new life into an old beauty. The technical performance facilities delivered in this local arts centre are on a par with national theatre venues and we look forward to providing continued services to the Redhouse.”
Upholding his reputation as a comic, the Prince directed the following question at Paul, raising a laugh for all involved:
“It all looks very impressive but where have you hidden the cast?”
Speaking on behalf of the community Karen Dusgate, Chief Executive of the Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association (MTHA) said:
“Today has been absolutely amazing. The amount of people that have come here – we never, never could have imagined it. The feedback we have received and the comments are great. People are amazed what is actually here.”