A gift to the people of Andover is set to be unwrapped this week as the scaffolding on the Guildhall comes down, following an extensive restoration.

The Grade II* listed building at the heart of the high street has been undergoing a major programme of restoration, repairs and cleaning, for the first time since 1991. The refreshed Guildhall is set to be revealed in the coming week.

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), Phil North, said: “It’s really fascinating to see the careful considerate work that has been done to one of the town’s most important and recognisable buildings. While many of us see the scaffolding go up and simply wait for it to come down, the intricate work carried out behind the netting is both impressive and essential.

“Whilst we’d initially hoped it would be completed by June - there has been some unforeseen additional works that have had to be undertaken along the way. After all, this is the building’s first significant restoration since 1991. The town’s Guildhall has sat at the heart of the High Street now for decades, and it is vital that, as its owners, we pay it the respect it deserves in ensuring it has a future for generations to come.”

The company Stonewest was employed to clean and restore the Guildhall following damage to the stonework over the years, using low pressure steam to remove dirt from the building.

The present work follows an application in 2019 to repair the stonework and refurbish parts of the hall. The lift was to be brought up to health and safety standards, while outside, most of the stone required repair, either due to erosion or through poor repair with cement in times gone by. Water has also been found getting into the ironwork, while some mouldings had dropped off the building.

The current cleaning will allow the approved refurbishment of the stone to take place, with damaged stones being repaired with lime mortar. A full clean has been deemed to be required as the sheer number means it is “impractical to clean targeted areas”. Moss will also be removed to investigate the stone cladding further.

There had been some concerns over the future of Christmas lighting on the Guildhall, which falls under the responsibility of Andover Town Council. Eyebolts had been installed permanently on the structure, but these were found to be ‘damaging’ to the façade.

Following the restoration work, resign collars will be installed within the structure of the columns, top and bottom, so eyebolts can be put in temporarily each year to allow the lighting sheets to be hung up on.