The Building Conservation Directory 2023
150 T H E B U I L D I N G C O N S E R VAT I O N D I R E C T O R Y 2 0 2 3 | C E L E B R AT I N G 3 0 Y E A R S C AT H E D R A L C O M M U N I C AT I O N S RESTORING ROCHDALE TOWN HALL’S INTERIORS EMMA BIRKETT S KILL SHORTAGES are a threat to the preservation of historic buildings in the UK. It is estimated that almost a quarter of our building stock is more than 100 years old, yet the vast majority of training for the construction sector focuses on modern building technologies exclusively. The result is that much of the repair and conservation work needed to keep our nation’s built heritage going is left to people who do not have the necessary skills. The largest funding source for conservation work in the UK, National Lottery Heritage Fund, is therefore encouraging its applicants to include an element of training in their projects. At Rochdale Town Hall this included conservation training for almost 30 people and the creation of hundreds of volunteer opportunities. HISTORIC BACKGROUND Rochdale Town Hall was designed by the architect William Crossland who won a competition held by the town council in 1864. Taking seven years to build, running significantly over budget and opening in 1871 it has been a much admired public building ever since and is Grade 1 listed. The building was required to fulfil several civic functions: in addition to town council meeting rooms and a base for the mayor, it housed an exchange for wool trading, a police station and cells, a residence for the police commander and a fire station for the town. Crossland treated each of these functions very differently, and the massing of the building clearly articulates the individual uses with 42 separate roofs. The original clock tower by Crossland was a mighty 73 meter high but burned down in 1883 and was replaced by the one you see now which was designed by Waterhouse. Although built during the high gothic period, Crossland created a unique set of spaces with craftsmen who were as much part of the emerging Arts and Crafts movement as they were masters of neo gothic form. The building has a series of wonderfully carved stone interiors such One of the angels of the hammer-beam roof trusses in the Great Hall being cleaned with the help of a work-placement student.
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