Essential repair works to the landmark Town Hall are under way after Council identified key areas of the 130-year-old building that required urgent attention.
Local specialist contractor UK Restoration Services has been awarded the contract to carry out much-needed maintenance work to various areas of the Grade II listed building.
The initial works are expected to take around seven months and will see repairs to the slate roof, guttering and exterior masonry.
Scaffolding has been erected at the site and a temporary roof will cover most of the building to ensure it is protected from the elements whilst the slate roof is striped back and re-laid.
The clock tower has stood proudly on top of the town hall for more than 100 years and will also undergo extensive renovation. The bell mechanism has been disconnected and the bell silenced to protect them during the work. The clock will also be stopped at some point to protect its mechanism.
The specialist restoration team is currently accessing the timber framing, copper exterior and masonry on the clock tower.
Council chief operating officer Lukman Patel said: “ Town Hall is an historic landmark building that we have a duty to protect for future generations.
“That means investing in the fabric of the building. The roof had deteriorated to the point where rain was leaking in and causing internal damage. We couldn’t allow that to continue; the longer we left it the more damage would be caused and the bigger the repair bill would have been.”
The council has set aside in excess of £350,000 in this year’s budget for the cost of the repairs.
-based UK Restorations has more than 20 years’ experience working on listed buildings, monuments and landmarks and has recently worked on iconic buildings such as Hall, Chester Crown Court and Heaton Hall in Manchester.
UK Restorations director Phil Braithwaite said: “We have conducted restoration work on some of the UK’s most historical buildings. It’s a pleasure to be working on such an iconic landmark in our own town.
“Our time-served management and skilled craftsmen have the knowledge and expertise required to work on local listed buildings.”
The company’s project manager Rob McKay added “We work closely with local conservation officers to ensure all restoration work taking place preserves the heritage and culture of the building.”
Further general maintenance will take place at the town hall throughout the coming year.