HUNTINGDON’S civic dignitaries proved they had a head for heights when they scaled the walls of the Town Hall to mark the end of the first stage of the building’s refurbishment.

There were smiles all round - though few chose to glance over the railings for a bird's-eye view of the town centre - as Huntingdon mayor Alan Mackender-Lawrence was joined by other Huntingdon town councillors and chairman of Huntingdonshire District Council Jeff Dutton for a topping-out ceremony to celebrate the completion of restoration work to the roof.

Work started on the £890,000 project last November with the removal of 10 oil paintings from the walls, and is expected to be finished under budget and ahead of schedule next month.

As well as a complete overhaul of the roof and lantern, the lighting in the hall has been renewed, new toilets and office space have been put in and a lift installed to provide access to the two upper floors.

Councillor John Skerry, chairman of the council's finance committee, hailed the completion of the roof repairs as a 'major milestone.'

He said: "The new roof and repairs will ensure that our town hall, built in 1745, will continue for many more years."

Town council staff will move from their current premises in Hartford Road into the hall once the work has finished.

The bulk of the project funding, £600,000, has come from former tenants HM Courts Service and £120,000 from the town council.

While plans to create a cafe in the former court rooms had to be scrapped, Cllr Mackender-Lawrence said he still hoped to see the space used.