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Council's heritage open days draw the crowds

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 18:08

Douglas Borough Council’s heritage open day weekend drew the crowds to Douglas Town Hall, Ballaughton Nursery and its Ballacottier Service Centre.


1Debbie121019-DBC-017 MediumDeputy Mayor Councillor Debbie Pitts with Patricia and Kenneth Green


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More than 150 people visited the Town Hall to view artwork, artefacts and ceremonial items, photos of the town centre from the 1990s and original hand-drawn plans of the Town Hall.


 1Bentley121019-DBC-091 MediumCouncillor Andrew Bentley points out details of an item of artwork



1MembersRoom121019-DBC-082 MediumThe Members' Room proved popular with visitors


They also heard about the history of the building and were able to visit the Members’ Room, (pictured above) which once served as the former library’s reference room. Additionally a series of tours took visitors ‘behind the scenes’ of the Town Hall, from the basement to the top floor, and Councillor Ritchie McNicholl (pictured below in th Council Chamber) gave visitors a history of the Council from its formation through to the present day.


 1Ritchie121019-DBC-003 Medium


1Danny121019-DBC-044 MediumThe tour included the Town Hall's basement


1ReadingRoom121019-DBC-072 MediumThe natural light-filled former Reading Room


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Among the visitors were Tracy and Gary Quayle. Mrs Quayle said: ‘The open day was really interesting, especially the old photos showing how Douglas used to look. It’s easy to take for granted all the heritage there is in Douglas and there’s so much history about the Town Hall so it was great to have this opportunity to have a such a close look around.’


 1Quayles121019-DBC-033 MediumTracy and Gary Quayle with daughter Erin, nine and son Tommy, 13


Stephen Green and his wife Catherine found their visit equally worthwhile. Mr Green said: ‘The Members’ Room was impressive and it was interesting to learn about how the building once housed the fire station…and the length of time it took for fire vehicles to get to Laxey, for example.’


Sally Miskinnon found the tour brought back memories. ‘As a child I would visit the Town Hall so it was great to have an insight into the building’s history, see the old reading room which was flooded with natural light and I thought the Council Chamber was very imposing. I found everyone from the Council involved in the open days very knowledgeable, too.’


The fire station history also proved a revelation to Lee and Denise Brock. Mr Brock said: ‘I had no idea about the fire station, the history of which was really interesting. The Town Hall open day was fantastic and really brought back some fond memories. It was also great to see how many of the original fittings are in such good condition and still in use.’


 1Brock121019-DBC-086 MediumDenise and Lee Brock


Veselin Marinov, who comes from Bulgaria, added: ‘For me it was really interesting to see how the old reading room and library had been designed; I think the architects did a great job, and I found the Council Chamber very impressive.’


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In support of the open day programme the Waste Services team gave two tour sessions of its waste management operation at the Council’s Ballacottier Service Centre. Around 40 visitors viewed a video of the collection, processing and baling of recyclable materials in preparation for shipment to the UK for processing.


A question and answer session followed to promote the importance and benefits of recycling, focusing on how it uses less energy to recycle rather than make products from new.


The tours also provided an opportunity to disprove the misconception that all recyclable materials collected by the Council were incinerated rather recycled. With Christmas fast approaching visitors were given advice about what types of wrapping paper is suitable for recycling and learned that glitter is viewed as the ‘enemy’ of recycling. Other topics raised included bring banks, textiles recycling, electric vehicles, Swedish recycling methods and civic amenity sites.


Visitors praised the team’s enthusiasm and knowledge and there were comments from those living outside the Borough wanting to have a similar type of recycling service as Douglas, while the overriding feedback from visitors was that an Island-wide recycling scheme was the way forward.


At Ballaughton Nursery two tours attracted some 40 visitors to see the scale of the operation, viewed the green waste recycling process, a demonstration of the robotic plant production equipment which can plant more than 1000 seeds in a few minutes, and the transplant equipment capable of transplanting up to 10,000 plants in an hour.


Visitors also learned of the Parks Service’s pollinator plan and how, in the future, some grassed areas could be developed into wild flower spaces. A tour of the glasshouses revealed how the Council produces 180,000 annual summer bedding plants which supply around 550 floral displays for Douglas town centre.


The tour also provided an opportunity for visitors to have a first glimpse of the cabin destined for a new children’s play site at Ballaughton Park, where a partnership between the Council and the Isle of Play will deliver a creative play experience that will be a first for the Isle of Man.


Reflecting on the open days Council Leader Councillor David Christian MBE JP said: ‘The open days proved a great success thanks to the enthusiastic participation of Members and hard work of many officers and staff.


‘The weekend also provided a valuable opportunity to engage informally with the public, promote some important environmental messages, share knowledge and to showcase the sheer scale, reach and diversity of the Council’s services. Feedback has been universally positive, so we are pleased to have supported Manx National Heritage’s open day programme in the 10th anniversary year of their campaign.’