Today is the opening of the new St Albans Museum and Gallery in the centre of the city.

The early Victorian town hall with its neo-classical facade has been looking for a purpose for fifty years. It’s been shabby and under-used, the grand entrance under the portico closed off and the public having to go through a gloomy side door for the occasional bric-a-brac sale and book fair.

The driving force behind the conversion is Councillor Annie Brewster, who has had unusual vision and energy. When I first heard about the funding target of £7.5m I put in my two penn’orth but wasn’t sure it would be reached. It was, and the building was completed on schedule. Always glamorous and dressed in startling colours, Cllr Brewster has been a ray of light in an otherwise dull council.

Now we have a museum, a gallery and an event space befitting our historic city. I’ll be visiting it next week.

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