Sid Vale Association gets first HQ in 171 years

PUBLISHED: 06:30 18 April 2017

The SVA's Richard Thurlow, Alan Darrant and Ed Harrison at the new HQ

The SVA's Richard Thurlow, Alan Darrant and Ed Harrison at the new HQ

Archant

Investment to breathe new life into a listed building has given Britain's oldest civic society its first-ever HQ.

A plaque on the door of the Sid Vale Association's new HQA plaque on the door of the Sid Vale Association's new HQ

Work has now finished on the Sid Vale Association’s (SVA) new premises at 36A Fore Street, previously Trumps, which will have its grand opening this summer.

The 171-year-old group now boasts meetings offices and crucial storage space that will ease the strain on Sidmouth Museum and make its archives more accessible. Richard Thurlow, who chairs the SVA’s conservation and planning committee, said: “It was clear the museum had outgrown its space and we were struggling to keep up with everything coming in. It was also clear to us we needed to have a proper place as an HQ.

“This listed property became available and we saw the opportunity to restore it to a good condition – it was derelict when we bought it.

“It’s right in the centre of town and an appropriate building for us. We’ve restored it to something like how we think it would have looked 100 years ago.

Newspaper archives at Sid Vale Association's new HQNewspaper archives at Sid Vale Association's new HQ

“We have a new HQ and we’ve reformed the website – we’re trying to revitalise the SVA.”

The first floor of the premises will be used for the 10 meetings the SVA’s various committees conduct every month that have previously been in members’ homes or rented venues.

Sidmouth Museum will use the top floor for storage and research. Among the archives that have been moved over are hundreds of copies of the Herald and its predecessor, the Observer, dating back to the 1800s. Richard said their combined weight was so great that the floor of Hope Cottage, which is home to the museum, was starting to bow.

The volunteers will be able to admire the historic features the SVA has managed to retain during the extensive 10-month refurbishment, including a range from the turn of the century.

According to the planning application, the long list of work included the repair of the fractured chimney stack, removal of asbestos, the overhaul of all windows and external walls and redecorating, among many other items.

The 200-year-old property had been vacant since September 2014, when Trumps closed, later to become Coffee #1.

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