This week’s Looking Back winds back the clock to December 1978, when inmates from Shepton prison cleaned up new town council offices.
Former Shepton Mallet Town Council chairman Mervyn Pullen revealed that prisoners from HMP Cornhill cleaned up and renovated the council’s new headquarters, in Great Ostry when he opened the building.
After four years of waiting, the council’s dream of having a permanent home of its own had finally come true.
The town council bought their new base for £8,000 and had a limited budget for cleaning out the former Congregational Manse and redecorating it.
Thanks to the generosity of local businessmen and the help given by prisoners, the work was carried out within the limit set down.
Councillor John Gilham, who was the council chairman at the time, paid tribute to Mr Pullen when he invited him to open the building.
“He was the main inspiration behind the idea of having this building as a base for the local organisations and the council,” he said at the time.
Thanking a list of long people who had helped bring about the new offices, Mr Pullen revealed how the inmates of the prison had helped.
“These splendid men scrubbed, cleaned, brushed and painted to make our house shine as it does tonight. Not to have allowed them to help with their intelligent labour would have been criminal,” he quipped.
After the ceremony, guests from local government and various organisations toured the building and enjoyed a sherry reception.