Art & Culture

Manchester’s iconic Science and Industry Museum to undergo ‘critical’ repair work

The roof is the size of two Olympic swimming pools

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 31st January 2024

The Science and Industry Museum, one of Manchester’s leading cultural institutions, has begun work on one of its Grade II-listed buildings.

The ‘critical’ repair work will see the historic roof of the New Warehouse replaced – a roof that’s the size of two Olympic swimming pools.

In fact, if you lined up the gutters surrounding the building end-to-end, it would be the same length as London’s Tower Bridge.

The landmark museum’s New Warehouse is more than 140 years old, having first been built as essential storage space for the bustling Liverpool Road Station.

The roof work at the Science and Industry Museum is part of the extensive, multi-million-pound heritage restoration project taking place across the historic site.


Visitors will be able to see the engineering in action, as scaffolding is erected around the New Warehouse, but the building will remain open for visitors throughout the work.

And there’ll be – as always – a packed programme of events, exhibitions and displays to explore, including the hugely popular Operation Ouch! Food, Poo and You.


Inside the New Warehouse building of the Science and Industry Museum, there are three permanent galleries, three changing exhibition spaces, the main museum entrance, a cafe, shop, and conference space, all spread across three floors.

The Science and Industry Museum's New Warehouse is having a new roof fitted. Credit: The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum
The Science and Industry Museum’s New Warehouse is having a new roof fitted. Credit: The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

The urgent repairs to its roof will allow them museum to continue its incredible work inspiring new generations of scientists and innovators.

The works are taking place thanks to the museum’s £14.2m worth of capital funding by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).


As The New Warehouse dates back to the 1880s, the vital work will be undertaken with Manchester-based architects Buttress, who specialise in restoring listed and historic buildings.

This will involve making the roof – a massive 100m x 40m in size (or two Olympic-sized swimming pools) – watertight, completely re-tiling it with 60,000 Welsh Slate tiles from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales.

They’ll match the original slates and will even be nailed in in a traditional way to honour the building’s heritage.

Lower Byrom street warehouse, Liverpool road station, Manchester 1983
Lower Byrom street warehouse, Liverpool road station, Manchester 1983. Credit: The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

The work will also make the building more sustainable, with masonry and windows restored and roof lights upgraded.

The final piece of work for this phase will see the gutters replaced with cast iron ones that reflect the building’s history.


Sally MacDonald, Director of the Science and Industry Museum says: “We are delighted that the next stage of the site’s multi-million-pound restoration project is underway. This marks an exciting moment as we carry out vital repairs to our main museum building, including a brand-new roof.

“Whilst this repair work will bring some disruption to our site, including our largest scaffolding structure to date, the changes taking place now will mean visitors can enjoy our museum for years to come.

“We’ve always been a place of change and transformation and the work on New Warehouse is our next step to future-proof our historic site.”


Travel like a poo at the @Science and Industry Museum this half term 😂 #themanc #manchester #scienceandindustrymuseum #operationouch #halfterm #fyp

♬ Fun ukulele songs – Lyrebirds music

Alex Scrimshaw of Buttress says: “This is a key milestone for the Science and Industry Museum. The comprehensive repair and renovations reflect our commitment to ensuring that the 140-year-old New Warehouse building will be welcoming visitors for many years to come. 

“It’s very exciting to be re-slating the roof with a sustainable national Welsh slate. Traditional lead-lined gutters have been reintroduced, to cope with the ever-increasing pressures imposed by extreme weather.


“The re-roofing works also provide the opportunity to significantly improve thermal performance; seeing the introduction of an innovative wood fibre insulation; as well as carrying out the meticulous masonry, stonework and window repairs required of a building of this grand stature.

“The project will also incorporate facilities which will enable inspections to monitor and check the building’s precise condition.

“Together with the project team, we are keen to embark on this journey to deliver a museum building fit for the 21st century.”

The New Warehouse work is expected to be completed by mid-2025, with the Power Hall reopening in Spring 2025.

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Featured image: The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum – Lee Mawdsley