THE exact nature of the work has been shrouded under scaffolding for the last nine months but careful restoration of South Molton s town hall is nearing completion. Although there is still work to do, the covers on the Grade One listed building could be

THE exact nature of the work has been shrouded under scaffolding for the last nine months - but careful restoration of South Molton's town hall is nearing completion.Although there is still work to do, the covers on the Grade One listed building could be coming off in November, according to architects Jonathan Rhind.Specialist contractors Carrek Ltd have been painstakingly removing layers of modern acrylic paint from the main elevation and more ornate elements of the building.They have also undertaken repairs to damaged stonework - and to previous cement repairs that have been added to the 1740s building over the years.The joinery of the sliding sash windows was deemed to be "of age and importance" and is being treated with care, according to architect Martin Sturley. "It's been a careful process and we have had to seek authorisation from English Heritage for all the works," he said."Although the majority of the repairs on the upper elevation and carved features of the building are done, we still have the lower pavement elevation to strip."We have left the lower part until last to maintain pedestrian access."As this part of the building is unstripped, the condition of the stonework is unknown and this may have a consequence on the timescale."Mr Sturley said that the repainting work would be done with a lead oil paint although a decision on the final colour had still not been made."We have been doing a lot of historical research based on photographic archives which suggest that the building was previously finished in a two-tone scheme. "The main elements of the elevation are in one colour while the more ornate features are of a lighter tone," he said.Originally forecast to finish this month, the cost of the refurbishments have risen by £40,000 to £110,000 due to additional labour and repair work costs."Although it has been a slow and careful process, we hope the work will be done within the next couple of months," said South Molton Mayor Stephen Lock."It needed to be done properly so that it stands the test of time."I'll be so pleased when it is unveiled in all its glory; I'm sure it will be worth the wait."The contractors have progressed very well with the clock tower despite the bad weather. I've also seen the finished royal coat of arms and that looks very nice," he added.