CleanSteve

By CleanSteve

Meeting Penny again in Lansdown Hall

I’ve been asked to attend a meeting tomorrow of the working group for Lansdown Hall and Gallery, a major community venue in the town centre. It is a converted temperance hall built in the 1880s, and purchased by Stroud Town Council in 2009 to save it from inappropriate redevelopment. At the time I was a town councillor and soon after the purchase I was elected to be the chair of the town council’s working group resolved to redevelop the building as a vibrant arts and community venue for the town, much like a village hall can be.

I was deeply involved for the next seven years with the investment the council made in the building, whilst I was also chair of the town council’s finance committee. We raised a lot of money from grant funding bodies in addition to the council’s own funds. Four stages of renovation projects have been completed and planning permission has been obtained for the final stage of building works to create a new accessible entrance and upgraded kitchen and bar areas, as well as vastly improved toilet facilities. I stopped being a councillor some years ago, but was invited to be a co-opted member of the working group, which hasn’t met since Covid unfortunately arrived in early 2020. 

I was in the street called Lansdown this afternoon, and thought I’d pop in to the art gallery on the ground floor, to get a feel for the building again prior to the meeting. This was the first part of the building we redeveloped and is becoming an essential venue for local artists to cheaply showcase their work. 

I then looked in to the rear entrance and seeing a light on in the manager’s office, I was delighted to find Penny was still at work today. She has been the manager for the last four years and has proved an incredible asset for the trust that runs the activities in the building.

I knew that she would also be involved in the important zoom meeting tomorrow so I was pleased to have a chance to talk to her about the works that are planned. We had a fun chat and then I asked her to remind me in situ about exactly what was going to be built. We walked upstairs and she pointed out the works that have been completed since I was last there, and I told her some of the previous history of how the various building projects had evolved. When we’d finished I asked her if I could take her photograph where she stood, and I quickly snapped two pictures with my little camera. She was very kind to let me do so. She is such a fun and kind person.

I’ve been taking pictures in and around the building ever since the council bought the building, recording the changes, the building work and some of the characters who have been involved. I’ve promised to provide some of them to Penny to add to their archive about the building. It is good to know that the pictures might be of use to others in the future, telling stories.

Lansdown Hall and Gallery

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