Fresh start for register office

Dewsbury Town Hall’s transformation into a centre for civic and cultural life has begun.

The first phase of a major refurbishment is almost complete, with builders and decorators adding the finishing touches in the last rooms.

A new box office and register office have been created on the ground floor, while two wedding ceremony rooms upstairs have been redecorated.

Kirklees Council invested £600,000 in the project as part its 2012/13 and 2013/14 budget.

Dewsbury Regeneration Board chairman Coun Paul Kane said: “The fact we’ve brought rooms back into use means its a fantastic investment for us and the town.”

Work began in June, and reached a milestone last week with the official opening of the register office.

The ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Kirklees, Coun Martyn Bolt, and the deputy registrar general.

The new facility includes private interview rooms, separate office space for administrative work and electronic noticeboards.

Superintendant registrar Lesley Hewitson said: “We do citizenship ceremonies once a month here and at Huddersfield, but prior to going through that process they often get their documents checked. We just didn’t have the room in Dewsbury before but this will give us an opportunity to do it in future.

“What it also means is we can separate the ceremonies from births and deaths. It used to be difficult when we had a wedding party and people coming in to registering deaths.”

The register service moved from its old building in Wellington Road last year.

It took over space previously used by housing and customer service teams which have moved to the Walsh Building.

When planning the refurbishment, the council wanted to modernise the facilities but still reflect the history of the Grade II listed building.

Black and white photos adorn the walls in the hallway and the Dewsbury crest stands beside the Kirklees crest on the doors to the register office.

Coun Kane said: “They wanted to put Kirklees on both doors but I said under no circumstances were we having that.”

Matthew Seed, from Kirklees’ asset strategy team, added: “We engaged our conservation team early on when we were having ideas about what we were doing with the town hall and where we would do it.

“We knew what some of the limitations were so that was key.”

Elsewhere, two IT training suites and office space have been created for the Electronic People’s Village.

What happens next will depend on funding allocated in the 2014/15 budget, which is due to be set in February.

Mr Seed said: “We’ve done part of the marriage room upstairs. We want to extend that through and look at refurbishing some of the other areas.”

Visit www.dewsburyreporter.co.uk to see more pictures and video of the new register office.

l The Reporter Series Business Awards will be held at the Town Hall on October 24. Turn to page 56 for ticket details.