The £16 million redevelopment of Rochdale’s Grade I listed town hall has taken a major step forward, with the appointment of Preston and Manchester based Frank Whittle Partnership (FWP) to manage the costs for its restoration.
FWP, whose team has worked and are working on prestigious heritage projects across the North West beat off stiff competition for the restoration of the treasured building, which is one of the best examples of gothic architecture in the country.
The respected firm will be QS and cost manager working with a team of specialists who have been commissioned to transform the Victorian town hall, following a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £8.9 million.
Successful ongoing projects for FWP include Carlisle Cathedral, Walton Hall Estate near Warrington, Rivington Terraced Gardens in Bolton and the Lambert Brothers Printworks in Preston.
The Rochdale project, due for completion in 2023, will restore the famous landmark’s many historic features, including the Magna Carta mural and ceiling panels in the great hall and its extensive stained-glass windows.
The gothic masterpiece, which was once at the heart of civic life in the borough but is now used mainly for functions, will also be brought back into use for the public with new displays and installations telling the story of Rochdale and its people.
The old library on the first floor, which was more recently used as office space, will also be restored and re-opened for community use as the new Bright Hall, in honour of prominent industrialists and radical politicians, the Bright family.
A series of access improvements, including the installation of new lifts and toilets, will open up the spectacular space and make it more accessible to the public than before.
Councillor John Blundell, cabinet member for regeneration at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “The town hall is a place of majesty and beauty, which is renowned across the country. For that reason, we set the bar extremely high when selecting specialists to lead its restoration. A building so special needs the absolute best and we’re confident we’ve got the calibre here to make this critical project a huge success.”
David Robinson, managing partner at FWP, said: “Rochdale Town Hall is one of the great Victorian civic buildings in the north of England and to be able to give it a new life fit for the 21st century is both a huge challenge and a tremendous honour.
“The team assembled by Rochdale Council has vast experience in working on heritage projects and listed buildings and the public of the town can look forward to the transformation of this historic asset.”