IN A few weeks' time, Romsey Heritage and Visitor Centre will be ready to greet visitors.

Work is nearing completion on the new centre in Church Street, where scenes from the past have been painstakingly created.

Guided tours of the centre will start next month and continue through March. In April the centre will be fully open.

Market Place chemist's and butcher's shops have been recreated and these are followed by a display on agriculture.

Upstairs, William and Mabel Moody are in their parlour to greet visitors. Several generations of the Moody family ran a gun shop in Church Street.

The last one was William Moody, a great inventor of useful gadgets such as egg-loppers and humane poultry killers. TVBC heritage officer Frank Green has almost single-handedly furnished the parlour. Dr Frank Akerman has lent items from the Moody collection of which he is custodian.

Roger Shaw has lent the centre items from his collection of apothecary bottles.

General manager Anne James said the centre was very grateful for the contributions that had been made by members of the public.

Major contributors include Don Baker, of Mead Mill, who has lent a selection of old agricultural implements. Edward Jewel has also lent agricultural implements and a selection of Romsey Brewery memorabilia.

"We are currently working on our programme of temporary exhibitions and events for 2001 and would be interested to hear from any organisations, schools or individuals who would like to display work in the small temporary exhibition space," said Mrs James.

She is the only paid member of staff at present. Volunteers are working hard with preparations but Mrs James is looking for more stewards for King John's House and the Heritage Centre.