The Georgian, Grade II listed Town Hall, which was completed in 1830, is a focal point of the community and provides a meeting space for local people and activity groups. Activities such as aerobics, kickboxing, parish council meetings and private functions are all held at the Town Hall.
The narrow shape of the main hall, however, had a detrimental effect on the acoustics in the room through sound reverberation. This meant that it was difficult to have conversations or host meetings when there was background noise, particularly for those that are hard of hearing.
A series of acoustic surveys were carried out and a recommendation was made that sound absorbing panels be installed to absorb the sound and prevent reverberations. The panels hang from the ceiling and are strategically sited to maximise their effect.
The Community Grant Fund was used by the Axbridge Town Trust to purchase the panels, which were installed by the Wooly Shepherd during lockdown in 2020. The panels have greatly reduced the sound impact on users of the hall, making it a more inviting hub for members of the community.
The funding from National Grid has also helped to spruce up the outside of the building in time for the town pageant, which is held every 10 years. The pageant involves more than 600 residents and is made up of 13 scenes depicting the town’s history, from the Roman times to the swinging sixties. The medieval square acts as a stage for the pageant, meaning all of the buildings – including the town hall – that surround the square must look their neatest.
The pageant was due to take place in August 2020 but was postponed due to COVID. It's now planned for August 2022.
Peter Scott, Chairman of Axbridge Town Trust, commented: “The Town Hall is a real community hub. It is where the Parish Council meets and is also home to a number of community groups. Sound was becoming a real challenge for many users, particularly some of our more elderly users, so we knew something had to change.
“The funding from National Grid has helped us to overcome this challenge and make the hall more user-friendly and accessible to more members of the community. In addition, sprucing up the outside so that the Town Hall looks its best will mean that it can continue to stand out as a rich part of the town’s history on the square.”