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Historic Court And Cells Closer To Being Saved

Crown Court (9)

10:06am 15th May 2013

One of Dorchester's oldest and most famous buildings is a step closer to being saved.

£100,000 has been earmarked to transform the Shire Hall that includes the Old Crown Court and Cells where the Tolpuddle Martyrs were tried in 1834. Author Thomas Hardy also sat there as a magistrate.

West Dorset District Council announced they would put the money aside at a Committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday 14th May).

It's hoped the Grade 1 listed building will become a major international visitor attraction in the future.

Robert Gould, Leader of West Dorset District Council, said: "This is a good decision as it paves the way for the Shire Hall to become an important visitor attraction and the centrepiece of Dorchester's heritage quarter.

"The Shire Hall is a fascinating building with a unique history. Visitors will be able to tread in the footsteps of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and see the sights that would have greeted them.

"I am very pleased that we are doing all we can to safeguard our county town's unique history and attract more visitors. This will benefit our local economy and we will also be creating something Dorchester can be proud of for generations to come."  

The council's Executive Committee decided to ear-mark the money so a detailed bid, covering construction, conservation matters and the production of exhibition materials, can be submitted next spring. The district council also earlier pledged to contribute £1 million to help make the project a reality.

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