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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

Stage set for grand reopening of Rochdale Town Hall

Preview by Steve Cooke


Details of the much-anticipated grand opening of Rochdale Town Hall have been revealed, with free tickets for the event set to become available now.


The stunning grade I listed building recently underwent a major restoration, which was supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. And now residents and visitors will finally be able to see the results for themselves when the building throws open its doors on Sunday 3 March.


Teams of specialists, and more than 500 volunteers, have spent four years transforming the space and restoring it to its former glory. Spaces which had previously been hidden from view are also now accessible to the public for the first time.


A number of the historic features the building is so well known for, including the decorative ceiling panels and angels in the Great Hall, the Magna Carta mural, the extensive stained glass, painted surfaces and stonework have been painstakingly restored and cleaned.


Visitors will also notice new spaces that have been created in rooms which were formerly used by council staff and councillors. One of these is the new Bright Hall. The former office space had unsympathetic additions, like mezzanine floors and partition walls, stripped away to reveal the double height ceiling, angels along the walls and a hidden window with views into the Great Hall. This space, which includes artwork co created with the local community, is now open for events and community use.


On the ground floor, a former meeting room space now houses a new permanent exhibition, known as the Welcome Gallery, which tells the story of Rochdale, its history and its people. Many local residents and community groups have donated pieces to the exhibition space, while volunteers have done extensive archival research to help inform its fascinating content.


The grand reopening will take place on Sunday 3 March, with the doors opening at 10am to the sounds of the Music Service Fanfare.


Residents will be able to wander around the space and soak up its beauty, while street theatre and outdoor arts specialists, Fool’s Paradise, move through the building with their special puppet show, ‘Rambling On’.


The Bombay Raja brass band will bring high energy Bollywood music to the event, with regular walkabouts through the spectacular rooms.


A live rug tufting workshop, led by Alena Ruth, will take place, in a nod to the borough’s notable history in the textile trade.


Councillor Neil Emmott, leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: “It’s been a long wait for our residents, and I’m delighted that they will finally get to see their beautiful town hall, fully restored in all its glory. Not only will they see the town hall they know and love, looking as good as it would have when it first opened in 1871, but they will see brand new features, like the Welcome Gallery, which makes it an even better space than it was before. We can’t wait to welcome people back in.”


Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member with responsibility for Rochdale Town Hall, said: “Sunday 3 March will be a wonderful celebration, but it’s really just the beginning for our brand-new town hall. Our new offer means that residents will be able to see it and enjoy it seven days a week. We will soon be offering guided tours, alongside a full activity, events and education programme, which will be revealed soon. We anticipate the opening day being very busy, so people who would prefer a quieter experience may wish to come along another day. This beautiful building certainly isn’t going anywhere, and our new extended opening hours offer many opportunities to enjoy this special place.”


People are advised to pre book their free tickets for the opening day, but walk-ins will also be welcome. To ensure a comfortable experience for everybody, visitors will be given a one hour 15-minute timeslot.


The town hall’s new restaurant, The Martlet Kitchen, will be opening later in the year, but a pop-up dining offer will be available on the day, for people to enjoy casual lunches, alongside hot and cold drinks in the Zodiac Bar, with additional seating in the Bright Hall.


Rochdale Town Hall will be open seven days a week (except Bank Holidays) from 10am to 4pm. Certain rooms may not be accessible at all times because of weddings and other events, so people who wish to see particular rooms are advised to contact the town hall team in advance.


The town hall is well served by public transport, with the Rochdale Metrolink stop and bus station only a short walk away, and Rochdale train station around a 15-minute walk away.


Free tickets for the Rochdale Town Hall opening day 20 February at:

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