Museum exhibition among plans to help keep historic hall open

PUBLISHED: 17:03 05 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:03 05 February 2020

Trustee Simon Weeks in front of a sign that reads 'ready for hire' Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Trustee Simon Weeks in front of a sign that reads 'ready for hire' Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

A museum exhibition celebrating and retelling the story of an historic public hall has been scheduled in the hope that the venue will remain open.

The Rifle Hall will host a future museum exhibition if it remains open Picture: SONYA DUNCANThe Rifle Hall will host a future museum exhibition if it remains open Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Halesworth Museum is hoping to hold an event at Halesworth's Rifle Hall in August - despite fears that the hall will close on March 31.

Pauline Wilcock, chairman of trustees for Halesworth Museum, said: "The Rifle Hall is an important building in Halesworth - there's a lot of history there.

"Plenty of people around today remember it with great fondness.

"The exhibition, if it goes ahead, will be an opportunity for everyone to remember the good times."

It was announced in December that the Rifle Hall, in London Road, was to close at the end of March due to a decrease in bookings.

The building began as a theatre hall in 1792 before being converted into a military drill hall 70 years later.

Given its history in the town, the news of its impending closure prompted a wave of sadness among the Halesworth community.

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Simon Weeks, a member of the Rifle Hall Trust, previously described the venue as holding "a place of affection in many hearts" of the town's residents.

However, the outpouring of support has led to renewed hope among Dr Weeks and the other trustees that the hall will remain open beyond its closing date.

After a public meeting at the hall last month, Dr Weeks said: "We're hopeful that we'll be able to keep the hall open."

If it goes ahead, the museum event will retell the history of the building and its prominence in Halesworth through photographs and exhibits sometime in August.

It is one of many plans in the pipeline as the Rifle Hall Trust hope to generate enough support to keep the venue open.

The trust has received numerous offers for other events to be hosted at the venue, including a charity ballroom dance and a monthly market.

A dozen volunteer supporters have also been tasked with running fundraising campaigns and promoting the venue.

In addition, businesses in the town are also taking up the Rifle Hall's cause - including electronics store Hughes, who are collecting donations.

Dr Weeks said: "We are very grateful to the people who have offered to pitch in with whatever needs to be done - whether that is running a cafe in support of an event, handing out fliers in town, or wielding a paintbrush to improve the look of the hall."

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