A delegation from the project to protect the Houses of Parliament for future generations has visited Manchester Town Hall today (Friday 17 March) to gain insight into how it is tackling a similar task
he visitors from the Restoration and Renewal project, which is overseeing work to the historic Palace of Westminster complex, saw for themselves how Manchester’s Our Town Hall project is progressing.
The once-in-a-lifetime Our Town Hall project is restoring and repairing the Grade I-listed Manchester icon while tastefully transforming its Albert Square surroundings and upgrading its access and safety standards.
Although the Palace of Westminster is a much larger complex, there are parallels between the two heritage projects. The Houses of Parliament, only completed in 1870 after the original Palace of Westminster had burnt down in 1834, are a near contemporary to the Town Hall which opened in 1877. Visual similarities between the two Victorian neo-gothic masterpieces are such that the Town Hall has frequently been used as a ‘double’ for the interior of the Houses of Parliament in films and TV dramas.
The delegation were given a flavour of the extensive works, including a visit to the roof level where around 140,000 tiles are being replaced and being shown the Great Hall where the restoration of the ceilings and leaded windows has been completed. They also saw where sympathetic interventions are being made to the building’s fabric, for example to create five new lifts to improve accessibility.
Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council Cllr Luthfur Rahman said:
“We were pleased to welcome senior experts from the Restoration and Renewal project and share some of our own experiences and learnings with them.
“We’re proud of our city’s beautiful town hall and what we’re achieving here in what is currently the biggest heritage project in the country.
“As well as safeguarding this beloved building for many decades to come, we are determined to leave behind a legacy for Manchester people who have gained skills through working on the Our Town Hall project or inspired by its outreach work to encourage careers in the construction industry. We know this is something the Restoration and Renewal project is also intent on achieving.”
Andy Haynes, Commercial Director, Palace of Westminster Restoration & Renewal Delivery Authority said:
“Built at a similar time in the mid to late 19th Century, Manchester Town Hall is the spiritual cousin of the Palace of Westminster. We were delighted to see the fantastic work the team is doing to restore such an iconic building and hear more about some of the specialist skills and works still needed on the project.”