Demolition of old labour exchange in Sudbury begins to pave way for National Centre for Thomas Gainsborough
Work on the long-awaited multi-million pound National Centre for Thomas Gainsborough in Sudbury finally kicked off this week.
Demolition of the old Labour Exchange adjacent to Gainsborough’s House commenced on Monday to pave the way for a new arts centre as part of a major project to refurbish and extend the historic museum.
The exchange, formerly known as Gainsborough’s Chambers, was gifted to Gainsborough’s House Society by Babergh District Council last year to support the £9.85 million project.
The society confirmed it expects to complete work on the centre, which will include four new galleries and exhibition space, in 2021.
Mark Bills, pictured, director of Gainsborough’s House, said: “This is a historic moment in the life of the house.
“We have been working hard for six years to realise the ambition of building the centre, and to see the work made physically manifest is a hugely exciting moment for all of us.
“We are most grateful to all of our supporters for getting us to this point.
“Without the enlightened support of Babergh District Council, in securing the site and then gifting it to us, the project could not have happened.”
To date, Gainsborough’s House has secured £8.63 million to finance the project, including a £4.73 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, awarded in 2016.
Babergh District Council has stated it hopes the development will boost local tourism and help catalyse the regeneration of Sudbury.
Simon Barrett, cabinet member for economy, said: “It is fantastic to see physical work now under way.
“While the demolition is only the first step, it shows the determination and hard work of the team at Gainsborough’s House.
“We at Babergh are proud to play such a critical part by first purchasing and then gifting the chambers to the museum.”