Work to revitalise Todmorden Town Hall is in full swing, with plans for volunteer-led heritage tours; specialist restoration work; and the upcoming arrival of a new lift.
Calderdale Council is about to submit a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for £50,000 to support a new heritage programme.
A team of trained volunteers would guide heritage tours of the Grade I Listed Victorian Town Hall, giving visitors chance to learn more about its fascinating history. The volunteers would also help people to access archive material digitally, so they can delve into their family history and find out more about the Town Hall. New information boards would also give an insight into the magnificent building. The Council would appoint a volunteer coordinator to oversee the programme, and will find out in about eight weeks if the HLF bid has been successful.
In the meantime, the Council’s restoration of the historic outdoor sculptures and windows is on track to be finished in autumn.
The Town Hall was awarded over £22,000 of WREN funding last year to help towards the specialist restoration. The grant, together with money from Calderdale Council and Todmorden Town Council, will help return the roof’s intricate statues and roundel windows to their former glory. The stone statues have deteriorated over time, and the acid-etched glazing in the windows has cracked. The essential repair work is expected to take between six and eight weeks. The Council is currently choosing an organisation to carry out the work, as part of a competitive bidding process.
The iconic sculptures and windows have great historical significance in Todmorden. The statues reflect local traditional jobs and the location of the Town Hall between Yorkshire and Lancashire. There are 10 in total – three textile workers, a book keeper, two matriarchs representing Yorkshire and Lancashire, a blacksmith, two corn harvesters and a shepherd.
Inside the Town Hall, work is underway to install a new lift to replace the existing one. Last year, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet agreed that the old lift was no longer reliable, due to a number of break downs, and allocated funding for a replacement. To make way for the new lift, work is being carried out over the next few weeks to prepare the lift shaft, make some alterations to the adjacent toilets and remove the old lift. The new one is due to be installed in mid-July and this is expected to take about four weeks due to building work and testing to ensure safety.
Todmorden Town Hall is used for a wide range of events, and a new, reliable lift will make the building more accessible.
Built in 1875, the Hall has always been an important part of community life, providing a hub for public events, concerts, exhibitions, meetings and a wide variety of celebrations for people from Todmorden and beyond. The building is listed for its archaeological and historical interest – the interior is still mainly in its original state, with only a few minor alterations to the decor over the years. The splendid first floor ballroom and imposing north entrance hall with its imperial staircase are considered to be of exceptional significance. This, together with all the works underway to boost the building, makes it a perfect venue for special occasions such as weddings.
A new guide has been published showing the great things you can see and do at Todmorden Town Hall. You can pick one up at your local visitor centre, Todmorden Library or the Town Hall.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Steve Sweeney, said:
“Todmorden Town Hall has a rich history and has always played a key role in civic functions and social life in the town. It’s important that current and future generations can enjoy and learn more about our wonderful heritage, so I’m pleased that work is underway to protect and boost the Town Hall. These projects will make a lasting difference to Todmorden, its community and visitors.”
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Environment, Cllr Barry Collins, added:
“We are committed to revitalising Todmorden Town Hall. It’s one of the priorities for the Todmorden Development Board, which was set up by Cabinet in February 2013. The building is so impressive and we need to make the most of its striking features and ensure it continues to be a focal point for the town. The current and upcoming projects will add to the work that we have already completed – for example, last year we carried out repairs to make the external stonework and roof safe and weatherproof.”