A delegation from the Restoration and Renewal project, tasked with protecting the Houses of Parliament for future generations, visited Manchester Town Hall on Friday 17 March to gain insight into how a similar task is being tackled in the city.
The visitors were given a tour of Manchester’s Our Town Hall project, which is restoring and repairing the Grade I-listed Manchester icon while tastefully transforming its Albert Square surroundings and upgrading its access and safety standards.
The delegation saw firsthand how the project is progressing, which included a visit to the roof level where around 140,000 tiles are being replaced, and a look at 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.
Although the Palace of Westminster is a much larger complex, there are parallels between the two heritage projects.
The Houses of Parliament were completed in 1870 after the original Palace of Westminster burnt down in 1834 and are a near contemporary to the Town Hall which opened in 1877. The Town Hall’s visual similarities to the Houses of Parliament have led to it being frequently used as a ‘double’ for the interior of the Houses of Parliament in films and TV dramas.
The Restoration and Renewal project is overseeing the work to the historic Palace of Westminster complex, which requires significant repair and renovation work. The delegation’s visit to Manchester provided an opportunity to gain insight into the progress and challenges of a similar project.
The Our Town Hall project is a once-in-a-lifetime initiative that seeks to restore and repair one of Manchester’s most iconic buildings while also transforming its surroundings. The project is also upgrading the access and safety standards of the building. The visit from the delegation highlights the importance of preserving our heritage buildings and the significance of these projects for future generations.
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: