Manchester Town Hall revamp: the artisan studio on Albert Square which allows you to see inside now

The studio gives people - quite literally - a window onto the work going on at the town hall.
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Manchester residents can now get a close-up glimpse at the work going on to renovate the city’s town hall.

The Artisan Studio is located on Albert Square and quite literally gives people a window onto the work going to revamp Manchester Town Hall. Visitors are able to watch the skilled craftspeople involved in the Our Town Hall project and learn more about what goes in to working on a historic landmark building.

The Artisan Studio allows the public to watch specialists carry out some of the intricate and painstaking work being done on Manchester Town Hall. They also explain to visitors what they are doing and how they forged their careers.

Demonstrations take place every Wednesday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm up to and including Wednesday 21 December. There will then be a break for Christmas and the New Year before the sessions resume in early 2023. It is located on Albert Square opposite Brazennose Street.

In December restoration and conservation experts Stone Edge are the ones showcasing their skills. They will be explaining the story of the stone, from the quarry to its final installation in the building, as they carve ornate new pieces to replace worn and damaged stonework from the town hall.

In the New Year the artisan studio will have craftspeople including Heritage Mosaic, who are restoring the town hall’s intricately designed marble piece-patterned floors.

Manchester City Council is hoping the renovation of the town hall will create a legacy of skills and jobs and inspire people to get involved in the industry and create careers in it. So far it says hundreds of new jobs and more than 100 apprenticeships of varying levels have been created during the project.

However, the huge scheme has also not been without controversy as the council is working on the refurbishment with Lendlease, which is one of the companies which has been involved in the cladding and building safety scandals and which previously had to pay to remove flammable materials from two blocks in the Green Quarter in the city.

What has been said about the studio?

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester Town Hall is a remarkable asset for the city which is being safeguarded by the largest heritage project currently underway in the UK.

“While the work has required specialist skills, it has also given us the opportunity to create a legacy by passing on those skills to a new generation – and inspiring others.

“We wanted to open up a window on this work and let people see for themselves the care, attention and expertise which are going into this huge undertaking. I’m sure the artisan studio will offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes insight.”

Richard Denneny, director of Stone Edge, said: “The involvement of our heritage operatives in the Our Town Hall project has been a wonderful journey so far. Through the social value initiative, we have had the opportunity to train three apprentices from the local area and provide them with unique knowledge, skills and experience in the built environment and conservation sector.

“Our first apprenticeship will be formally completed before Christmas this year which is a fantastic achievement. There aren’t many apprentices who can say they have served their time on such an important and prestigious building as Manchester Town Hall.

“The artisan studio opens up a window into our work that been underway high up on the Victorian faced and is a great opportunity for people to see first-hand the great work the masons and their apprentices have been undertaking.”