This article appeared in the Autumn 1977 (Issue #49) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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Roman Painted House at Dover.
On 12th May, 1977 the Roman Painted House was officially opened by Lord Astor of Hever, Lord Lieutenant of Kent, exactly on schedule and well within the budget, in spite of inflation. The grand opening ceremony included representatives of all the major contributors to the scheme, notably the KCC, DDC, DOE and of course KARU who have carried out the whole enormous programme of excavation, construction, preservation and displays. The CKA which has wholeheartedly supported the scheme throughout, was represented by the chairman Mrs R Johnson. The opening proved pleasantly informal and was much enjoyed by the hundred or so official guests.
Lord Astor, before unveiling a special plaque, referred to the importance of the local archaeology in Dover and said that the town in historic terms was probably second only to London and York. He congratulated the trustees and the unit on its hard work and energy on seeing the whole scheme through to its final conclusion. The Painted House should now bring thousands of visitors to the centre of the town. On Saturday, 14th May the twelve hundred Friends, who had all paid £5.00 or more for the season-ticket for life, were cordially invited to make their first inspection. Hundreds poured into the fine new building and their reaction was one of total surprise and great delight. One lady who spent many hours looking at the Roman building and all the display panels was heard to say 'its all like a dream'. The Friends were given details of the cost of the project. The work should have cost at least £120,000, excluding inflation, excluding the cost of several major alterations to the original scheme and excluding normal display-case and display-design and layout costs. The total value of the scheme, by present-day standards, is probably £180,000. The actual cost was £74,000 thus achieving a saving of just about £100,000. That the work was completed on schedule and the scheme actually extended to include the forecourt layout, for the same figure is a fact which most local Councils and Government departments would do well to study.
It reflects careful management, a high degree of efficiency and a large amount of cheerful voluntary work. The Trustees, Unit and all those closely associated with this grand scheme deserve the thanks and congratulations of all those genuinely interested in the archaeology and history of Kent.