Mancunians are being offered a rare chance to explore behind-the-scenes at Manchester Town Hall, in one of a special series of guided tours.
The tours, led by Manchester’s Blue Badge guides, offer Manchester people the chance to visit parts of the Grade I-listed Town Hall which are not normally accessible to the public, to gain a deeper understanding of the building’s rich history and see first-hand why a major project is needed to restore and protect it for future generations.
Visitors will see highlights including the Courtyard, with its cobbles and original leaded windows; silver cabinets containing 19th century dinner sets and gifts made to the city over the years; the Town Hall’s portcullis, which is still used to this day, plus back-stage staircases and unseen areas like the Lord Mayor’s Steps and the Porter’s Cubby Hole.
The tours last for around 75 minutes. Four tours will be held on Sunday 22 January, with further tours to be offered fortnightly on Sundays until the end of March.
They are being offered as Manchester City Council continues to make progress with the Our Town Hall project, which aims to refurbish one of the UK’s most important gems of Victorian architecture and secure its long-term future as Manchester’s civic centrepiece.
The tours will reveal some of the elements of the building which are now in need of urgent repair. The Town Hall turns 140 years old this year and while it remains structurally sound, it is showing its age, with major work required for the 19th century building to be brought up to modern access and safety standards, while ensuring that its many heritage features are sensitively preserved.
Councillor Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester Town Hall is one of the nation’s greatest buildings and increasing its use by residents and visitors alike is a key objective of the Our Town Hall project. As well as protecting it for the long-term future, we must also enable more people to access it and these tours are offered in that spirit.
“The building is a Manchester icon and we know many people care deeply about both its history and future. These tours with Manchester’s Blue Badge Guides will allow residents to see for themselves many of the Town Hall’s beautiful features, but also to find out more about the complex, often specialist work which is required to safeguard the future of this Grade I-listed building.”
Tickets are available for £2.50 per person, plus a booking fee. Charges are to cover administration costs and guide fees, but have been subsidised by Manchester City Council.
For more information and to book, visit www.newmanchesterwalks.com, or www.manchesterguidedtours.com.