Shropshire Star

Living museum plan for former Welshpool court

A former crown court could be transformed into a museum where visitors can watch historic court hearings acted out before their eyes.

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Welshpool Town Hall

The plans could see the former Welshpool Crown Court in the town hall become a living museum in a bid to offer the public a chance to take a step back in time and discover more about the town's history.

Welshpool Town Council is the driving force behind the scheme, and in recent weeks town clerk Robert Robinson has met with the Heritage Lottery Fund, who have confirmed a figure of up to £100,000 could be available for the project.

Mr Robinson said: "The town hall is the centrepiece of Welshpool town centre and dominates the street. It is important to the history of Welshpool and has been refurbished over the last 10 years following many years of neglect and lack of maintenance.

"The council has been considering a positive use for this room for some time and is of a mind to take forward a scheme to try and preserve history, particularly as the council archives have now progressed in their organisation by the employment of an archives officer since 2010.

"The plan is to progress a living museum and court scene which can be visited by the public enabling them to experience its past and see more of the local history of Welshpool.

"The proposal will include a living museum with the public able to see how it would have been, to see the town's artefacts and also attend mock hearings in the courtroom."

The plans would include the renovation of the existing courtroom fittings, which are intact, as well as dummies dressed to show how the court would have been, a press button operation for the public to see past court scenes in front of their eyes, public performances with actors completing a court scene, and interpretation boards.

Mr Robinson said: "Once the scheme is complete there will be public access at set times and also official tours including mock court hearings in the room, and an archivist or historian will be on hand when the public visit to help with any information.

"The existing room with courtroom would be altered to provide a living courtroom within a walled area with glass viewing areas.

"The museum area would be protected by glass panels and would comprise a number of set areas as tableau or viewing areas.

"There would be suitable ceilings, lighting and fire protection along with disabled access to all parts of the displays."

The court ceased in 2005, when all crown court hearings were relocated to Mold.

Welshpool Town Council has estimated the cost of funding the project would be about £85,000, with the majority of it coming from grant funding.

Members of the council's services and property committee are set to discuss the project at their next meeting on June 7.