Planning Permission Given To Transform Dorchester's Shire Hall
8:12am 17th July 2014
The courtroom where the Tolpuddle Martyrs were sentenced has been confirmed as the centrepiece of a new heritage centre.
Planning permission's been approved for the £2.9M project at Dorchester's old Shire Hall.
The Secretary of State's being asked to approve building consent for the scheme in the grade 1 listed building.
Shire Hall which was used as council offices until 2013 was built in 1797.
English Heritage, the Dorchester Civic Society, the TUC, Dorset County Museum, Dorchester Arts Centre and the Thomas Hardy Society have all supported the scheme.
The London Dorchester Committee Trust (LDCT) will manage and run Shire Hall under a lease from the owners, West Dorset District Council. The attraction is set to open in summer 2017.
Trust chairman John Russell said: “Shire Hall is a unique part of British heritage. The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ fight for decent wages and working conditions is as important in its way as the signing of Magna Carta. Some of the questions Shire Hall’s history raises about justice and oppression are still very relevant today. This project aims to blow the cobwebs off and bring alive the building’s many stories, as well as conserving the actual bricks and mortar.”