Public open days on Saturday and Sunday provided people with their first opportunity to step inside the Christchurch Town Hall since it was closed in 2011 due to severe earthquake damage.

People tour through the restored Douglas Lilburn Auditorium.

People tour through the restored Douglas Lilburn Auditorium.

But a three-and-a-half-year restoration project has brought the heritage building back to life.

Woolston man David Metcalf was the first member of the public through the doors of the reopened Town Hall. Like most of those attending the public open days, he had fond memories of events he had attended at the Town Hall and was eager to reacquaint himself with the building.

“It’s looking really good – it brings back some memories for me,’’ he said.

Dr Robyn Hewland had a special reason to be at Saturday’s reopening; her father was chairman of the first fundraising committee for the Christchurch Town Hall.

“I have so many memories of this building,’’ she said. “It’s amazing to be here and to see it looking so great.’’

Christchurch City Choir member Andrew Jefferies was among those who performed in the Town Hall at the weekend.

“Walking in the musicians’ entrance and up the stairs, the memories started flooding back to me: the wood panelling, carpet, light fittings, and the doors into the auditorium. The auditorium itself is looking fantastic.

“The Christchurch City Choir, gentlemen in their dinner jackets and bow ties, sang excerpts from Handel’s most famous oratorio Messiah, as we celebrated the resurrection of this magnificent building,’’ Mr Jefferies said.

Vbase General Manager Chris Mintern said it was fantastic to see the Town Hall filled with people.

“The feedback we had was really positive – people seemed genuinely delighted by the restoration and grateful that this important part of Christchurch’s heritage has been saved.

“There were lots of memories and stories shared as people made their way through the building but people were also excited about what is to come – they are looking to forward to creating new memories in the Christchurch Town Hall,’’ Mr Mintern said.

With construction work still to be done on the James Hay Theatre and preparations being made for the first ticketed events at the Christchurch Town Hall, there will be no public access to the building this week.

“On 6 March organist Martin Setchell is giving two free concerts so people can hear the upgraded Reiger organ being played and that will be another opportunity for people to see inside the Town Hall.

“We’re also looking at creating some other opportunities for people to tour the Town Hall and we’ll post details of these on the Vbase website(external link) and Facebook page(external link),’’ Mr Mintern says.

“We know people are keen to see inside but unfortunately until work on the James Hay Theatre and the new space for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra is completed, there will be limited public access to the building.’’

The first ticketed events at the Christchurch Town Hall will be held this weekend, beginning with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and Shapeshifter concert on Friday night.