With anticipation building ahead of a planned spring opening, major refurbishment is nearing completion at the Epping Forest District Museum.

The ambitious £2.5m project will see big changes come to the attraction in Sun Street, Waltham Abbey – floor space is quadrupling, an activity and community rooms is opening and more of the museum’s estimated 100,000 items will be on display.

The refurbishment has been ‘exciting and terrifying’ in equal measures according to manager Tony O’Connor, who said the initial intention was not to have a “major building project”.

But with the goal of making the Georgian and Tudor buildings fully accessible and housing as many visitors as possible, intense building work has been required.

Original timber has been removed and recorded, a lift has been installed and floors have been raised and excavated, unearthing an even older 12th century home underneath – and “all sorts of animal bones and other garbage”.

The Tudor section is being restored “sympathetically”, with attention drawn to features such as the ‘TCT’ etched in the mantelpiece, believed to be left by Thomas Taylor and his wife Constance in the 17th century.

Plans are being developed for the derelict garden to be restored, but so far the biggest changes have been made upstairs.

An entire floor above the library has been converted, creating galleries, exhibition spaces and an activity room above Sun Street.

Although the museum has plenty of objects needing storage, the opportunity for more display space was jumped at, said Mr O’Connor.

“The opportunity to acquire the floor came up, we could not just turn it into a storage space.

“It was just too good not to take.”

A ‘core gallery’ is at the heart of the new space and will showcase the breadth of the museum’s collection – local art, costumes, historical artefacts, archaeological finds and more.

Exhibitions will be hosted and the possibility of event and meeting hire is also being considered.

The work has been paid for by £2.5m funding from the Heritage Lottery fund and Arts Council England as well as the district council, and Mr O’Connor said “we want to… keep the museum free if we can”.

Building work is expected to finish in December, with a planned opening in late March next year.

“Has it been exciting?,” said Mr O’Connor.

“Yes, it certainly has, but it has been terrifying as well.

“I think the responsibility that goes with something like this is enormous.”

With just months to go after a long period of closure, he said excitement is building.

“A lot of people in the town have been waiting for a long time.

“This potentially lifts the game here enormously.”