Transforming the Bideford Arts Centre

building work

February 2023: Inside the hallway

In you’re passing through Bideford, you may have noticed the scaffolding around the Bideford Arts Centre which is part of a large project to rejuvenate the building. So what’s going on inside?

What’s happening in the Arts Centre?

The Arts Centre is currently undergoing a significant volume of work to restore the building to its former glory. Much work is going inside the building to create functional and user-friendly spaces for education and leisure.

In keeping with the building’s history, the ground floor will continue to be used for education – with Learn Devon offering adult education courses and workshops. This modern space will act as a learning hub for the people in Bideford and its surrounding areas.

April 2023: The scaffolding is removed

The second floor will become the new home Bideford’s library, offering a bright, airy haven for families and book lovers with views across to Victoria Park and along the Quay.

A key feature of this ambitious project is to install a lift to ensure accessibility to all users. This is something that has prevented all members of the community using upper floors of the building in the past.

This project is an exciting development for Bideford and we will continue to update you as the project progresses, as well as inviting the community to feedback as to what you would like to see from Learn Devon.

About its history

April 2023: New signage installed

Bideford Arts Centre, formerly known as Bideford Art School, is an imposing grade II listed building held on the Register of Historic England since 2001. It is described on the listing entry as a free Gothic style and constructed of red brick with parapeted gable ends and slate roof. The windows have wooden frames with both horizontal and vertical pillars and there is a large north window with stained glass at the head. Due to its listed status many of these historic features must be retained and sensitively preserved and restored.

Opened in 1896 as a Technical College, many of you will have noticed the large plaque on gable end facing the Post Office paying testament to the grand opening and the Mayor of Bideford at the time. It also mentions one Alderman John Whitlock Narroway, who was also involved with the opening of the Bideford Library at the opposite end of the quay.

We very much look forward to moving back to the Art Centre in the Summer of 2023 and in the meantime, while the work is underway, Learn Devon has temporarily relocated to:
Bideford Town Hall
The Town Hall
Bridge Street
Bideford, EX39 2HS

For information about visiting Bideford, see our Bideford page.

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