The Town Hall closes for major refurbishment
Thousands of visitors flocked to Manchester's iconic Town Hall yesterday (Sunday 14 January) ahead of its temporary closure for work to safeguard, repair and partially restore the building.
They enjoyed a special open day giving them the chance to explore some of the Grade I listed building's key heritage features, such as the magnificent state rooms, the famous Great Hall and Bees mosaic, as well as less well known areas such as the cobbled courtyard.
The 140-year-old building, which is structurally sound but has not escaped some of the ravages of time and also needs work to meet modern access and safety standards, is now closed for a few years to enable major works - under the banner the Our Town Hall project - to take place.
Work to the building will also include improvements to neighbouring Albert Square to enhance its role as a popular events space. The project will ensure that the Town Hall meets modern access and safety standards and is more energy efficient when it re-opens in 2024.
The first phase of work will involve more detailed intrusive surveys into the building, which were not possible while the building was still occupied.
Fans of the Town Hall's Sculpture Hall Café will be able to enjoy the new St Peter's Square Café in the Town Hall Extension building instead. The new café is in addition to the existing one in Central Library.
Councillor Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: "Manchester Town Hall is a symbol of Mancunian pride and a key part of the city's heritage. When it re-opens we are determined to ensure that it is more of a visitor destination and that its civic treasures, which belong to and help tell the story of Manchester and its people, are more accessible.
"While it will be sad to see the building close for a number of years, it would be a tragedy if it was allowed to fall into disrepair, decay and disuse. It is already seriously showing its age with many elements reaching the end of their natural lifespans. That's why we are acting now to avoid that and ensure it remains a source of pride for the city for generations to come."