Watford Museum will be closing in October for a couple of years as it prepares to move to a new home, as the current building is considered unsuitable to house its growing local history collection.
Like most local history museums, it tells the story of Watford including Watford at War, Print and Brewing and a display on Watford Football Club – which also includes some Elton John memorabilia.
The museum, which is currently based in a Georgian building near Watford High Street is going to be moving to the other side of the main town centre, into a refurbished Watford Town Hall. The move, which is being supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is part of a wider scheme to revitalise the town centre and bring the museum closer to the main shopping street.
The 1930s Watford Town Hall is now larger than the council needs, so the museum will take up vacated space on the ground and first floors, including the large committee rooms which are decorated in a 1930s style. Apart from making the museum more obvious to visitors, the other reason for the move is that the museum’s current Georgian-era building, built in 1775 cannot be made fully accessible to visitors.
The downside is that the museum’s current location while not obvious to casual visitors is close to Watford High Street station, whereas the replacement venue, while next to the main shopping street, is separated from it by a very busy road — albeit with a pedestrian underpass. Fortunately, there is a plan to improve that and make the underpass approaches more pedestrian-friendly.
The current timeline is that the fit-out for the museum inside the Town Hall will start next summer, for the museum to open in the autumn of 2025.
However, that means the museum will close sometime in October 2023 — so if you haven’t seen it in the current building, you have about 6 weeks to visit. The museum is currently open from Thursday to Saturday and is free to visit.
The building is listed, so will be preserved and the council says it will likely be sold.