Topsham's Matthews Hall goes from strength to strength

THE CHAIRMAN of the Matthews Hall management committee has expressed his delight over how pleased people appear to be with the new and improved community venue. Steve Preston, of The Strand, Topsham, said he has received nothing else other than positive f

THE CHAIRMAN of the Matthews Hall management committee has expressed his delight over how pleased people appear to be with the new and improved community venue.

Steve Preston, of The Strand, Topsham, said he has received nothing else other than positive feedback from users of the hall, who have used the building since the doors reopened last September.

And, as testament to its success so far, Mr Preston said the changes have led to more interest from people wanting to use the facility - and an increase in educational users.

Matthews Hall was subject to months of refurbishment work to improve the standard of the building, and to make it better suited as a place for entertainment and community activities.


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The project to modernise the hall has cost in the region of �230,000 with a significant amount of money being raised through fundraising efforts.

Mr Preston said: "There have been a lot of people using the facility (since it reopened) and I think they love it. I've been commended quite a bit for the work that has been done.

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"There have been no criticisms at all. It's now a superbly operating hall and has got very good equipment inside."

Mr Preston said both the film society and the Exe Decorative and Fine Arts Society were delighted with the new acoustics.

"Both groups find them a huge improvement," he said. "If you have a party there, for instance, it is a much more pleasant sound and people are not shouting all the time to be heard.

"You have only to go to the Saturday market to find it is all much calmer and more attractive, whereas before it was very ugly.

"From a functionality point of view, that has made a huge difference."

Furthermore, Mr Preston said everybody seemed to like the new caf� bar at the front of the building.

"The two people running the bar, Wendy Gray and Nicky Parsons, have made a huge effort towards it and built up a great business.

"We are pleased that, not only does it look attractive aesthetically, but it works well.

"The way it's been set up with the bar servery and the layout of the tables with their attractive design, is great.

"We have an air curtain which insulates the room from the outside. This is useful, particularly in this cold weather, because it means you can still have the door open and retain warmth inside."

Mr Preston, speaking about the added interest in the hall since its modernisation, added: "It's difficult to tell exactly how much because we need to wait until the financial year is over and see how bookings have gone.

"We seem to have a lot more interest. There are more educational users using the hall."

Mr Preston said it was 'very much' the case, that the objectives of improving the building to a point where it could be enjoyed greater by the community, had been fulfilled.

"All the community groups who have used it are delighted. We had a few teething problems initially like the theft of cutlery from the kitchen.

"But we have to put that down to bad luck and it doesn't detract from the success of the project."

Mr Preston said the floors in the hall had been worked on over the Christmas period and the entire modernisation project was now around 99 per cent completed.

"The floors look terrific. We have raised the standard so much at the hall that bits we haven't done are looking quite conspicuous in their need for treatment.

"The two areas we still need to do are the floor and lighting in the council chamber. We hope to do these in the spring.

"We are talking about another �2000 worth of work out of a �230,000 project.

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