Rochdale Borough Council has secured £8.3 million from the National Lottery’s Heritage Fund towards an upcoming town hall revamp.
Rochdale Town Hall is classed as one of the most historically significant buildings in the country, with features which have been described by Historic England as being rivalled in importance only by those contained within the Palace of Westminster.
The council has already been granted planning permission for the major restoration project – which is expected to cost around £14m in total – with the hopes that it is to reopen to the public one again in 2023.
This new funding boost – which made possible thank to National Lottery players – will support “ambitious plans” led by the council and Rochdale Development Agency (RDA) to restore the building’s many historic features.
The council intends to fund the remaining cost of the project.
The leader of Rochdale Borough Council has said that the restoration of the town hall will “give this wonderful building back to the people”.
As part of the revamp, precious parts of the building’s 149-year-old structure are set to be restored, which include the magna-carta mural and ornate ceiling panels in the Great Hall, as well as the building’s historic rooms, including the Mayor’s Parlour.
The project will also bring neglected parts of the building into public use for the first time in many years, with a new ‘Bright Hall’ being created in the old library. This brand new facility – with capacity for 150 people – will complement the great hall by offering a smaller area which can be used as a community, educational or commercial space.
Ground floor areas previously used as meeting rooms will be turned into a brand new exhibition area, with interpretation set to tell the story of Rochdale, its people and its history.
Access will also be dramatically improved, with new lifts and terracing making it much easier for people to get in and around the building.
A brand new Heritage Conservation ‘Skills Studio’ will be created in the basement to enable ongoing restoration works to take place once the project is complete and training opportunities in highly-specialised areas such as stained glass and antique furniture restoration will also be created in collaboration with local training providers.
The redevelopment will also create a number of additional benefits through jobs, training and volunteering opportunities, which will be delivered as part of the project.
These include the creation of a new qualification for students called Design, Engineer, Construct, (DEC)© – which will be delivered in collaboration with Falinge Park High School – and an ongoing programme of activities, which will also enable residents to be part of the town hall’s transformation.
Allen Brett – Leader of Rochdale Borough Council – said: “Quite simply, the town hall is part of Rochdale’s DNA. It has played a major role in our past, detailing through its intricate features both our radical political traditions and our role in the global cotton industry which have shaped the borough we see today.
“This project means it will now also play as big a part in our future.
“By creating brand new spaces for community use and making it easier for more people to move around the town hall, to understand it and to enjoy it, this project will give this wonderful building back to the people of Rochdale, to whom it always has and always will belong.
“I’m really grateful to the National Lottery for their support and to the team here who have worked so hard over a number of years to make this happen.”
You can find more information via the Invest in Rochdale website here.