Port St Mary town hall goes Back to the Future

LIGHT SHOW: A Back to the Future-style DeLorean is the star turn of the town hall's grand reopening. PHOTO: Richard Ashcroft Photography.

LIGHT SHOW: A Back to the Future-style DeLorean is the star turn of the town hall's grand reopening. PHOTO: Richard Ashcroft Photography.

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PORT St Mary went Back to the Future to mark the grand re-opening of the Town Hall in spectacular style.

A time-travelling DeLorean was the guest star at the event which commemorated the return of the landmark town hall as the heart of village life after a gap of nearly a decade.

GREATEST SHOW: Youngsters enjoy the circus school in the reopened town hall. PHOTO: John Maddrell JM121110 (233).

GREATEST SHOW: Youngsters enjoy the circus school in the reopened town hall. PHOTO: John Maddrell JM121110 (233).

Illuminated for its official opening, the town hall is now adorned with clocks for the first time in its 114 year history.

The design of the clocks, which were donated by former village resident Henry Goldsmith, has more than a passing resemblance to those featuring in the 1980s film Back to the Future, prompting the idea for the theme for the opening celebrations.

Opened in 1898 by the Port St Mary Town Hall Company Limited, the building was purchased by Port St Mary Commissioners in 1938.

The town hall is the home of the Commissioners Offices but also the Happy Valley Play School which has been looking after children of the Port for more than 50 years.

BIG DAY: Robbie Cooil cuts the tape to open the town hall watched by Bernadette McCabe, chairman of Port St Mary Commissioners. PHOTO: John Maddrell JM121110 (211).

BIG DAY: Robbie Cooil cuts the tape to open the town hall watched by Bernadette McCabe, chairman of Port St Mary Commissioners. PHOTO: John Maddrell JM121110 (211).

Over the years, the main hall has seen many different kinds of events and its sprung maple floor has been a favourite of roller skaters, dancers and various sports. Sadly, the hall was forced to close to the public in 2003 when plaster fell from the ceiling and the building faced the threat of demolition.

After various surveys, a number of schemes and options were explored and in 2011, the board passed a resolution to proceed with plans to reopen the hall which would involve improving toilets and access. Work began just after Easter this year.

The town hall was officially reopened by commissioner Robbie Cooil.

Events organised for the grand reopening included a circus school for the children inside the main hall. Outside there was a display of vintage vehicles.

In the evening there was a spectacular firework display over Chapel Bay followed by a ceilidh in the main hall with music provided by the Kipper Ceilidh Band.

Village commissioner Richard Ashcroft said: ‘Port St Mary commissioners are delighted that the town hall has been given a new lease of life after a decade or more of decay.

‘The once condemned building is now set to become the cultural heart of the community and a rousing send off at last Saturday’s ‘Back to The Future’ themed event was the perfect start.

‘We would like to thank the Goldsmith family for their generous bequest of the clocks which now grace the four corners of the fully renovated and wheelchair accessible hall.

‘The opportunities ahead are fantastic, including live music events, roller discos, fashions shows, art exhibitions, conferences and even the possibility of marriages and wedding receptions.

‘It’s not surprising that there has been such interest in the beautifully appointed hall as with a capacity of 200, it has now become one of the largest venues in the south.

‘The completion of this engineering feat is yet another catalyst for the regeneration of the village and a feather in the cap of the town clerk Jason Roberts, chairman Bernadette McCabe and the commissioners, who worked so hard to complete the vision.

‘And what is more, we have even more exciting plans ahead, so watch this space.’

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