Public meeting called on future of Thornbury’s Armstrong Hall

THE trust in charge of Thornbury’s Armstrong Hall complex has called a public meeting to update people on its plans for the future.

The Armstrong Hall Trust is inviting all members of the public to a meeting to inform them about the “recent, current and future work being completed by teams of trust members alongside selected volunteers from various user groups”.

It will take place at Thornbury Baptist Church, in Gillingstool, on Thursday December 7 from 7-9pm.

Armstrong Hall, which was the town’s main performance space, and neighbouring Cossham Hall have been closed since the start of the pandemic.

The charitable trust, which owns the complex, later said that essential building work had left the venue no longer financially viable, and said it was considering selling the site and using the money to build a new theatre beside Turnberrie’s Community Centre, in Bath Road.

Users of the hall have called for it to be reopened, including Thornbury Musical Theatre Group, and campaigners from Armstrong Hall Action Alliance, who believe it can be restored.

Now the trust, whose only member is Thornbury Town Council, has called a ‘public dissemination meeting’ to share the information on the options for the future.

Trust wants ‘a viable performance space for Thornbury’

Trust vice-chair James Murray said: “We have been very busy as a trust working on a viable performance space for Thornbury.

“We have already held a meeting with user groups and are now looking to speak with the general public about our recent work, current plans and future visions. 

“The meeting will involve a presentation from the trust, a Q&A session and will finish with an opportunity for members of the public to give any input in to the current project before decisions are made on the future of an arts/performance space in Thornbury.  

“The more who attend this meeting, the greater the data we will collect to ensure our decisions moving forward are well-informed.” 

Mr Murray, whose role as a trustee is separate to his role as a town councillor, said three different teams had been looking at three options available for the future: to refurbish the current buildings and reopen them in stages, to rebuild a new venue on the site or to concentrate investment at Turnberrie’s Community Centre.

He said: “We have been putting all the work together and getting more input to make an informed decision.

“We’re conscious that in the past the trust hasn’t been great at letting people know what they are doing, so we’re trying to be more transparent and open.”

User groups who are already involved in the trust’s project are being asked to stay at home for the meeting “to allow space for the wider public to attend”.