AN EXCITING community project to reclaim Weymouth’s old town hall for the community could also rejuvenate Chapel-hay Gardens.

The Chapelhay Commun-ity Partnership is to lease the Grade II listed 16th century building from Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

The main focus of the town hall will be an art heritage centre with re-enactors telling the real life story of the battle and siege of Weymouth during the English Civil War.

The building will also be used for a range of community uses and the Partnership hopes to see Chapelhay Gardens brought into use as a ‘living history open museum and creative work space’.

The gardens would offer historical workshops such as woodturning, leather work and earth kiln firing as well as performance spaces for music and arts.

Partnership vice-chairman Martin Hedley said the group hopes to launch its project within eight weeks and is calling on the community to get involved.

He said: “We would love everybody who is interested in art heritage or community work to get involved and pledge their time or services for the launch and the project itself.”

Mr Hedley said the history centre in upper room of the town hall would give people a unique insight into momentous events in the town’s past such as the Battle of Weymouth and the Black Death – told by enactors.

The lower part of the building will be available for community use, with Mr Hedley open to offers or suggestions.

Public relations consultant Suzanne Boudier, who has volunteered to help on the project, said by extending the project into the gardens it could transform the whole Chapelhay area.

She said: “We have a lot of history in Weymouth and the heritage centre will be celebrating it. The gardens will be for the community and not focus purely on history and heritage but offer things like theatre, arts and music that will reach out to every demographic group.”

Mr Hedley said he had been overwhelmed by offers of help and support already for the project including from local businesses such as Tudor Rose Architectural Masons who have offered to oversee the refurbishment of the Town Hall, free of charge.

Funding talks are also taking place with the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Anyone willing to offer support or who would like to check out the Chapelhay Community Partnership’s plans for the old town hall and Chapelhay Gardens can contact Mr Hedley on 01305 770608 or by email at martinjhedley@tiscali.co.uk