New group launched to save Thornbury's Armstrong Hall

May 27 2021
New group launched to save Thornbury's Armstrong Hall

CAMPAIGNERS hoping to save Thornbury's Armstrong Hall complex have launched a new group.

The Armstrong Hall Action Alliance has formed in response to the decision of the hall's charitable trust in March to keep the building closed after lockdown.

At least £77,000 of repairs would be needed before the hall could reopen “safely", the trust said.

There had been long term plans to demolish and rebuild it using grants, but these are no longer available.

The Alliance has made initial contact with the town council, whose members are also trustees for the hall, and will discuss the AHAA proposals at a later date.

The new group already has more than 70 members, who say they are concerned about the impact of the hall’s closure upon Thornbury, including several of the hall’s historic user groups.

AHAA says it “hopes to work with the council to find a way of restoring the Armstrong Hall complex and opening it, once again, for the benefit of the community.”

Historically, the hall has hosted cultural events including the Thornbury Arts Festival and Jazz Festival, and is also home to the 100-strong Thornbury Musical Theatre Group, Northavon Youth Theatre Company and TMTG Juniors.

The Thornbury Picture House, horticultural society, charities, evening classes and schools also made use of the space before the lockdown.

Campaigners say that for many groups there is simply not a viable alternative venue within the town should the Armstrong Hall remain closed.

The town council and South Gloucestershire are discussing expanding use of the Turnberries Community Centre as an alternative. But the AHAA says that in its current form, Turnberries is not fit for bigger groups or larger events, that its redevelopment could take years and many user groups will go out of existence unless a better solution is found.

Helen Cornes, from the AHAA, says that following the formation of the group the Armstrong Hall trustees had been willing to show them some of the survey reports on its condition.

She said: "They have also offered to allow AHAA members to visit and review some of the issues preventing the reopening of the building. We are hoping to visit soon."

Armstrong Hall chair of trustees Jayne Stansfield, who is also the town mayor, said: "We have received their communication and I have forwarded it on to all the other trust members.

"I have informed the action group that we cannot comment until we have had a chance to discuss this as a trust.”

People who want to get in touch with the AHAA can email info@ahaathornbury.co.uk.