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County Council signs removed from old Shire Hall

11 January 2024

Signs that have stood at Cambridgeshire County Council’s former headquarters for over 40 years are being preserved following a warning their appearance was beginning to deteriorate.

The two hand-painted signs, featuring the authority’s coat of arms, were positioned outside the entrance of Shire Hall on Castle Hill, Cambridge. 

The council left this site in 2021, moving to New Shire Hall in Alconbury Weald.

The signs were removed this week after the council was alerted to their deterioration by one of the sign writers that had helped to create them.

Paul Mumby, who was an apprentice at the time, said restoring the signs would be very difficult because of the way they were painted.

He said the paint was flaking and any attempt to repaint them could damage them further.

Not wanting to lose these pieces of Cambridgeshire County Council history, the authority has removed both signs from the outdoor elements.

They have been taken to a central Cambridge storage location until a final decision is made regarding their future use and where they are to be displayed.

The re-marketing of the old Shire Hall, to find a commercial partner to redevelopment the site, will begin on Monday 29 January and run until the end of May.

It comes after the former preferred bidder, Brookgate, confirmed it was unable to complete the deal.

Since then, officers have carried out a detailed review of the six-acre site to provide them with a comprehensive update on all the options available.

This concluded that the development of the site for office and hotel use remained the most valuable option for potential developers and local taxpayers – with a likely annual return in the region of £3m each year.

A report seeking approval of the preferred bidder was expected to be put to the assets and procurement committee on 18 June.

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of the council, said: “Shire Hall was our home for over 40 years and the signs that stood proudly at the entrance were a significant feature.

“I’m thankful to Mr Mumby, not only for helping to create them but for alerting us to the need to preserve them.

“A permanent new home is yet to be decided but I’m sure they will be a welcome addition to any collection of Cambridgeshire memorabilia.

“It comes at an exciting time as we prepare to re-market Shire Hall to find a new commercial partner.

“The site, which has been a seat of local government since Norman times, is in a prime position in Cambridge City and has huge potential for an ambitious developer.”