With more than 200 people passing through Douglas Town Hall over the course of Friday October 12 and Saturday October 13, the Council’s participation in Manx National Heritage’s open day programme has been hailed a success.
From Peel to Pittsburgh, Ramsey to Tower Hamlets, visitors toured the Council chamber, committee room and foyer to view artwork, memorabilia and civic regalia, also to study rare hand-drawn plans of some of Douglas’s landmark buildings, including the Town Hall, and meet with His Worship the Mayor, Councillor Jonathan Joughin JP and the Mayoress, Mrs Angela Joughin, together with Council Members and officers.
In addition, a series of guided tours led by the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Ian Clague MBE and Building Control Manager Nick Kaighin, which took visitors into hitherto unseen areas of the Town Hall – from the top-floor former caretaker’s flat to the basement – sparked great interest.
The Town Hall open day programme was supplemented by conducted tours of Ballaughton Nursery on Saturday October 13, where around 50 visitors learned about the Parks Service’s operation and the environmentally-friendly measures in place, such as harvesting rain water to irrigate floral displays and the use of peat-free compost produced from recycled green waste produced on site.
Among visitors who took the Town Hall conducted tour was Chris Berry who said: ‘It’s great that the Town Hall has been opened to the public for this weekend, and to see just how well cared for the building is and how many of the original features have been preserved. The guides were extremely well informed and clearly have a passion for the Town Hall and its heritage.’
Retired former Douglas Borough Council employee Ken Barnes said: ‘Touring the Town Hall was really interesting, especially viewing some of the archive material. It’s a credit to all the staff how well kept the building is.’
John Nolan expressed the views of many visitors, saying: ‘The tour of the Town Hall was one of the best we’ve been on. It was excellent and to hear about the former fire station was particularly interesting. I think it’s commendable how sympathetically the building has been modernised over the years without it being spoiled.’
Council Leader Councillor David Christian MBE JP said: ‘Douglas Town Hall has a fascinating story to tell and Manx National Heritage’s open day programme provided the ideal opportunity to share that story with a wide audience. The Town Hall has been at the heart of civic life in the Borough since 1900 and the displays and tours arranged over the two days illustrated the history of this landmark building to great effect. Feedback from the visitors with whom I and my fellow Members spoke has been extremely positive and I am grateful to everyone who gave so freely of their time to make this year’s open days so successful.’