WEYMOUTH’S iconic Guildhall will be given a new lease of life after being bought by a celebrity TV antiques dealer.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has sold the Grade II listed building to Antiques expert James Braxton, who has appeared on BBC's Antiques Road Trip, and Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

Mr Braxton said he wanted to preserve the site’s history and bring back access to the Guildhall for both wedding venues and family holiday lets.

Dating from the early 19th Century, the Guildhall was built on the site of the original Melcombe Regis Town Hall and was originally used as a Police Station with cells to the ground floor and a council chamber and court room on the first floor.

In more recent years the property was utilised as council chambers for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and as a registrar’s office. Extensive works were undertaken in 2000, which formed a new glazed annexe created offices occupied by a volunteer organisation.

The Guildhall was put up for sale by the borough council in order to help meet a £9m funding gap. The sae of the Guildhall, together with money awarded by the Government in recognition of the council’s partnership working – will help pay for the North Quay office conversion and moving costs when staff move out.

New owner James Braxton said he recognised the historical importance of the site, being an auctioneer with Dreweatts Bloomsbury, in addition to making regular television appearances on BBC's Antiques Road Trip, and Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. He said: “The Guildhall is steeped in history, which is what initially attracted me to the building.

“I'm determined to preserve this, plus bring access back to the Guildhall, for both wedding venues and family holiday lets.”

Kevin Conibear handled the sale and said he received significant interest in the property. He said: “The Guildhall is a prominent, well known building within Weymouth town centre with significant history and a substantial number of viewings were undertaken, resulting in a best bids scenario.

“We were conscious throughout the marketing of the integrity of the building and this is certainly something that the borough council wish to protect.”