A NORTHWICH art gallery has been dubbed “fantastic” by the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire.

Lord Lieutenant David Briggs visited the London Road Studios last week for a guided tour from Carolyn Shepherd, founder of the London Road Collective – who have been running exhibitions and art classes in the building since October.

Carolyn invited Mr Briggs to take a tour of the studios to demonstrate just how vital the building and art space is to Northwich.

The London Road Collective is currently occupying the building, formerly the Cheshire School of Art & Design, on a six-month lease from owners Mid Cheshire College while the college looks for a buyer.

But the group, made up entirely of former art students of the school, hopes it can build up a business case to show that the studios can be used as a sustainable business, although concerns over maintenance costs have been raised by several parties.

The Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs said: “I think it is a fantastic building with all sorts of exciting opportunities but it is clearly a huge challenge to run it as an arts centre and to pay all of the necessary costs for the upkeep of the building.”

Although Carolyn understands that maintaining the building, including any repairs that may need to be carried out, could be costly, she is determined to ensure the building retains what it was built for.

She said: “The building is filled with all this artistic atmosphere and passion. It was purpose built for art and it would be such a shame to lose it.

Since opening its doors in October the building has had hundreds of visitors both viewing and even buying the art on display.

“When we opened it up to the public we had no idea whether we’d get 10 people coming through the door or 10,000 but it has been so successful.
“It could be a fantastic arts centre for Northwich. There is just so much passion here - it’s unique.”

*For more information about the London Road Studios, contact Carolyn on 07848008145.

*The studios are currently closed while exhibitions are changed over and roof damage, as reported in the Guardian last week, is assessed.

*The new programme will reopen from January 12, 2013.