The refurbished town hall has been unveiled and opened as a heritage centre celebrating Teesside’s history.
The Yarm Town Hall Heritage Centre has now officially opened to the public after months of renovation and restoration. Its centrepiece is ‘Island In A River’, a permanent display with artefacts paired with 10 related films, created without about 100 residents including community groups.
The artefacts include a replica of a 10th-century Viking helmet, a fire and flood bell dating back to the site’s previous use as a toll booth, a ceremonial sword belonging to lord of the manor Thomas Meynell, a 1686 bushel measure from the original weighbridge and polearms used in the Yarm Fair.
A holographic film of the Tees will be projected on to the canoe installation at night, referring to floods which have submerged Yarm High Street over the years. The first floor currently houses a temporary exhibition about the town hall restoration itself, but will eventually hold exhibits about the river, railway, schools, churches, entertainment, business, trade and Yarm at war and at play.
The project was funded via the government’s Levelling Up Fund, which awarded Yarm with £20m, and with contributions from the council’s Town Centres Investment Programme and Yarm Town Council.
Yarm Town Council Chariman Peter Monck, said:
“It’s a project I’ve been close to for quite a long time. Thanks to the Levelling Up money, we’ve managed to get this fantastic exhibition ready.”
“She’s (Julliet Johnson - Wharton Construction Development Manager) worked her socks off to make it happen and I owe her a great debt of thanks for the work she’s done. Without Juliet it wouldn’t be like this, it would just be a collection of artefacts.”
“It’s absolutely fantastic. The end result is more than I could hope for.”
“We’ve brought all the community groups together to work on it. It’s been a real community involvement.”
Matt Vickers MP said
“I can't praise Peter enough for having the vision, the terrier-like perseverance to get everything across the line and keep going when it looked like it would never happen”.
“It is a great privilege, pleasure and honour to be here this morning to see a big piece of Yarm’s history take another step in its story. I don’t think it’s ever looked as good as it does today.
“Anything that comes with change brings a bit of anxiety but actually, anybody who was worried about what was going to happen with the town hall need worry no more. You’ve done a cracking job, well done.”
“Yarm’s a really amazing town and I think it’s right that we’ve got a town hall that’s up to standard for it. The public are going to be proud to come and have a look around.
“I think the fact the community’s been involved in putting it together is part of the magic. Yarm’s got an amazing history and it’s something we should be promoting and celebrating.”
The centre will be open Thursdays to Sundays from 12 noon to 6pm.