Jail-house memories needed for Gravesend project

PUBLISHED: 09:59 07 July 2011

The former courtroom in the old town hall. The dark patch of wood on the floor was where prisoners were led back to the cells beneath

The former courtroom in the old town hall. The dark patch of wood on the floor was where prisoners were led back to the cells beneath


»Have you ever been taken down to the cells at the Old Town Hall? Or maybe you remember attending a public or private event before the landmark venue closed.

The 16th century High Street building in Gravesend has been the subject of a £2.3million two-year refurbishment and restoration project and now stories from residents are wanted.

On top of restoring a wealth of historic features The Talking Halls Project being run by the charity Whole Community Works aims to research personal stories to create a short video, information booklets and other educational material in the building.

A £50,000 Heritage Lottery Grant and a £6,000 Kent Arts Development Unit grant is funding the scheme and an artist residency for Lucy Andrews whose work will complement the project.

Both John Bennett, chairman of the steering group and Stephen Brice, heritage interpretation manager, are spearheading the research project and getting schools and community groups involved.

Mr Brice said: “Memories of the building are key to enable us to create a relevant and accessible history. Personal recollections are very important.

“Perhaps you had the unfortunate experience of being taken down to the cells or maybe you attended a tea dance there.


“By doing this we can create a lasting legacy, drawing on peoples personal recollections and helping us understand and record its events.”

Today Gravesham mayor Cllr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi is to visit Painters Ash Primary School to see sculptures the children have made based on Gravesham’s coat of arms which features on the Grade II listed building.

Pupils at Riverview Primary School are also getting involved by carrying out a research project.

With research due to be completed by October when a series of public events will take place, it is hoped the entire project will be finished by February next year.

Email or call Stephen Brice on 07940 555 237.

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