Town Hall

Rochdale Town Hall is widely-regarded as one of the UK’s finest examples of Victorian gothic architecture. The Grade-I listed building was designed by William Crossland and opened in 1871 as a symbol of the town’s industrial standing in the textiles trade. According to Historic England, its ornate stylings are rivalled only by the Palace of Westminster. In 2021 work commenced to restore the building to its former glory, some 150 years after it was completed. The extensive work being carried out will create an open and accessible community space featuring exhibition rooms and a new Bright Hall for community events to take place.

Why is the restoration being done?

The building was falling into a poor state of repair and it had become vital that it was preserved for generations to come. It had suffered years of poor maintenance through a lack of understanding for delicate interiors, which it was necessary to reverse to prevent even further decline.

The interior was also starting to become damaged and this repair was urgent as it was no longer weather-proof and the building’s roof needed replacing.

Work Taking Place

The building also had a crumbling drainage system, leaking roof and darkened, dust-smeared windows and wood panelling. All things that needed urgent attention.

In January 2021, the first of two phases in the restoration got under way. This work continues with phase two through to a planned re-opening in late summer 2023

Projects Phases

Phase One

Funded by the council, this phase, now complete, saw major structural work being carried out:

  • Asbestos was removed
  • The old electrical system removed
  • The building’s drainage system was modernised
  • Structural work was carried out to create openings for new lifts and access points
  • Partition walls and mezzanines were removed
  • Protection of the stained glass windows and wood panelling was put in place
  • Foundations for the new terracing around the town hall were put in place
  • Scaffold was installed to ready for the roof to be worked on
  • A new fire protection system was put in place
  • Cleaning of the external stonework started

Phase Two

In the summer of 2021 phase two began. This major, time-consuming, labour-intensive operation will continue right up to re-opening in early 2024.

Funded by both the council and by The National Lottery Heritage Fund this will see:

  • Internal repairs and cleaning to stonework
  • Restoration of stained glass windows, including the Cromwell window, which was removed and taken to studios in York for preservation. The Cromwell window depicts Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and Charles II side by side.
  • External repairs including roof works, stone repairs and pointing
  • Window replacements to make the town hall waterproof
  • The removal of poor quality mid-late 20th century alterations and partitions continues
  • Reducing fire risk with an updated fire system
  • Making the building fully accessible with a new lift and staircase in the clock tower with new terracing around the building
  • Providing adequate toilets facilities on all floors
  • Specialist cleaning of the delicate painted interiors in all heritage rooms such as the Great Hall, Mayor’s Parlour and the main reception
  • Making the building more environmentally sustainable with improvements to the roof insulation and new glazing
  • A new secure and inviting entrance to the building to be known as the Welcome Gallery
  • Making the building a better setting, making it safer and more welcoming as a first class event space
  • Creation of a new Town Hall Square, a pedestrianised area which will feature plants and lawned areas with a carpet of historic paving stones with unique, etched inscriptions inspired by historic symbols found inside the town hall. There will also be new benches with designs linked to Rochdale’s history.

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