Part of one of Newport’s oldest buildings is to be used as a heritage centre with a museum and tourist information.
Town councillors have agreed to allow The History Society to use 3a High Street, next door to the Guildhall, on a long-term basis.
The society will use the building to stage historical displays with local finds from across the area.
History Society chairman Julian Meeson said: “The displays will be designed to offer a coherent story of the town and the surrounding district, with artefacts and photographs depicting life from the Prehistoric period to the present day.
“There will be a number of permanent displays, featuring the most significant artefacts discovered in the local area.
“And there will be a programme of temporary exhibitions to maintain public interest.”
The building will be staffed by volunteers and it is hoped that it will be initially open on Saturdays and daily during the summer holidays.
Newport schools are expected to take advantage of the facility to supplement studies into local history.
A number of people have already offered to donate artefacts for display.
They include The Sheriffhales Roman coin hoard, which was found by Terry Hayward in 2009.
The 86 coins date from 69AD to 161AD.
Memorabilia relating to Serck Audco, once a major employer in Newport, will also be displayed, and Peter Reavill, Finds Liaison Officer for Shropshire and Herefordshire, is expected to use 3a as a base for ‘finds days’ every six months.
The move comes after Newport Town Council agreed not to lease the building on a commercial basis until at least May 2015.
It was previously used by Crossroads Care and currently as the Save Newport Campaign headquarters.
Councillor Tim Nelson said it was a positive move for the town.
He said: “This is a long term project and not just a flash in the pan. The History Society can now take some time and do a very good job.
“It is something the town ought to have. Market Drayton’s got one and so should we.”
History buff Councillor Rodney Pitt was also pleased.
“I’m delighted about it because I have interests in the industrial history of Newport,” he said.
The building will continue to be used by the Save Newport Campaign until mid-January.
The upstairs of the building will be used as an additional office for the town council and for storage.
By Sean Wozencroft