WORK is under way on a £500,000 refurbishment of an infamous part of Greenock's historic Municipal Buildings.

Contractors have begun carefully restoring the former district courtroom to preserve it for future generations.

It was last used a decade ago and is part of the Grade A-listed Inverclyde Council HQ, but it has fallen into a state of disrepair in recent times, suffering from water ingress and dampness.

The floors and walls are also in a poor condition.

Now Greenock contractors WH Kirkwood have begun the delicate restoration of the courtroom, preserving many of the original features such as the wood panelling, doors, benches and ornate cornicing.

Specialists are also being brought in to spruce up the eye-catching Victorian stained-glass window featuring a ship and emblazoned with the town motto, 'God Speed Greenock'.

Councillor Michael McCormick, the council's convener of environment and regeneration, said: "It's an iconic building and it's important we preserve it.

"It's the council's responsibility to look after historic buildings and they don't come any more historic than this.

"The stained glass windows showing the areas we cover are also getting done up as well and that will make a big difference."

The project is expected to cost £465,000 and will run for several weeks.

As well as work on the main courtroom, the adjoining holding cells will be given some TLC

An archivist will document the graffiti adorning the cell walls before they are covered up

The courtroom had previously been touted as a possible location for wedding ceremonies following the closure of the council's West Stewart Street registry office in October last year.

No final decision has been made on its future use once the work is completed but there are no shortage of ideas.

Mr McCormick said: "We will have options, whether it's for marriage ceremonies to take place here or for something else.

"When children are in for tours we always ask them what they think should be done with the courtroom and they have come up with some great ideas so we might even open it up to public consultation to see what people want done with it.

"There are so many options but the first thing to do is ensure that it's made safe.

"It's been in a poor state for quite some time and access has been restricted for so long."