A NINETEENTH century building that had fallen into disrepair after more than a century of being at the centre of a town’s history will soon be restored.

The Old Lock Up on Victoria Square, Llangollen, built in 1834, has seen a colourful 184 years in which it has been a court room and jail, police station, town hall, drill hall for the army and a headquarters for the Llangollen Eisteddfod.

But the building has been essentially unoccupied for 40 years and much of the Grade-II building had fallen into disrepair. Numerous ceilings had collapsed, allowing water to pour in during bad weather, with plaster falling from the walls until Sue Hargreaves, retired, living in Llangollen for 13 years, took on the project to restore it in 2012 after her husband died, seeing potential for a community educational and activity space.

Ms Hargreaves has since invested her time and finances into the purchase and renovation of the building with the hope, it will become a versatile community-owned public space.

“Soon after my husband died I saw the building and thought, ‘why not?’,” she said.

“It was a nice building that has played a huge part in the life of the town, but it was falling into dereliction. I didn’t want it to be wasted on something else, like a furniture warehouse!”

Ms Hargreaves has already set up a museum in the section of the building that was the former jail, dedicated to the Victorian police with “hands on rather than academic” displays to engage younger audiences.

The work to restore the former town hall began six weeks ago and it is hoped to be complete next month. Ms Hargreaves has handed over the building to her charity, The Armoury Conservation Trust, because “that way it will stay in the community”.

“I want to restore the building as close as possible to its original condition,” Ms Hargreaves said. “We’ve used iron window frames, like they used to be before being boarded up by the army, presumably because they wanted privacy for their drill training.

But Ms Hargreaves is still unsure as to what the use of the former town hall will be once complete.

“Over the years I’ve spoken to members of the public to ask what they would like out of the space, but people’s wants can change quickly, so I’ll ask again.

“I’d like to use the building for exhibitions, heritage events and crafts workshops in which people can learn the trades that made Llangollen, such as weaving, building and quarrying.

“We’ll have to see.”