Manchester’s iconic Town Hall building will be given a rousing send-off on Sunday 14 January 2018 ahead of its temporary closure for work to safeguard, repair and partially restore it.
The Town Hall bells will be rung from 8.45am-10am and 4pm-5.15pm as a part of an open day before the 140-year-old Grade I-listed gem closes to the public from Monday 15 January to enable the Our Town Hall project to take place.
And the 3,900 people who have snapped up all the free tickets to the open day - giving them the opportunity to explore the Town Hall’s magnificent state rooms including the famous Great Hall and Bees mosaic - will also get a rare opportunity to hear the Great Hall organ being played. The Cavaille-Coll organ is in need of restoration but its 5,000-plus pipes still generate a resounding noise.
The day will end with Lord Mayor of Manchester Cllr Eddy Newman handing over keys to the town hall to the Our Town Hall project team to symbolise the building being passed into their care. It also echoes the handing over of a symbolic key to Mayor Abel Heywood when the building first opened in 1877.
In the New Year Cllr Newman will become the first ever first citizen to be based in Central Library, the temporary home of the Lord Mayor’s office while work is carried out.
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. At 140 years old, 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.”
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.