Over the last few years South Tyneside’s foremost civic building and its associated council offices have been undergoing a major face­lift. As part of the works to provide a modern working environment to allow the council to become ever more efficient, conservation works are being carried out to the Grade II listed Town Hall building.

  • Client: South Tyneside Council
  • Architect: Anthony Keith Architects
  • Designation Grade II Listed
  • Project Value: £9.5m (Our contract £600,000+)
  • Services Provided: Stone Masonry Conservation, Heritage Consultancy & Surveys, Building Conservation, Glass Conservation, Historic Metal Conservation (Iron)

Constructed between 1905 and 1910, the Town Hall stands as a fine example of an Edwardian Baroque public buil­ding. The aim of the scheme seeks to alter and refurbish the existing building to create a modern, bright, open working environment to accommodate various teams and services. Whilst the majority of the works are inter­nal, extensive works are required to the historic façade com­posed of brick and ashlar masonry with a mixture of Victorian sliding sash windows and stained glass set into Henry Hope metal casements.

As with many of Recclesia’s projects, we were asked to carry out a survey and provide our advice of any works requi­red to the historic glazing, metalwork and masonry, which resulted in a detailed schedule of repairs. After extensive va­lue engineering, the council decided upon an initial scope and we were appointed by the Main Con­tractors Willmott Di­xon to begin works at the end of 2015. Led by Stephen Evans (Contracts Manager), with the assistance of Mike Ba­tters (Senior Foreman) and Kat Walton (Studio Supervisor), Recclesia’s team is now in the process of dismantling, cleaning and re-leading approxima­tely 100 leaded lights from 41 windows, alongside the conservation and repair of the Hope metal casements, fabrica­tion of replacement frames and an ex­tensive programme of masonry repairs.

As the building will still be in use for ci­vic events and weddings, the client wan­ted to ensure that while the windows are in our workshops they appeared to be in place. As such we have produced specially made, temporary, imitation panels using Perspex and film that give the appearance the glass is still in place.

The project also includes the removal and careful cleaning of the Hope steel casements back to bare metal (equiva­lent of SA2.5 standard) to allow a new paint system to be applied. Once clea­ned each frame is being thoroughly assessed for repairs, which will then be carried out by our metalwor­king team, including specialist metal replication of historic bronze ironmongery. Due to the extensive corrosion of five large fra­mes, the largest measuring approximately 4.7m x 2.5m, it is not possible to conserve them so we are carefully replicating each one in stainless steel to match the existing profiles which will then be fit­ted onsite prior to the restored stained glass being returned.

The project has been challenging as a result of its size and the need for careful cataloguing of original building fabric prior to conservation work. Keeping the building in use has also resul­ted in some difficult programming and coordination, but our so­lutions have been creative and accommodating, balancing care­fully controlled budgets with the needs of the client and users of the building. The project is not due for completion until April 2017, with extensive masonry repairs and cleaning works still to be carried in addition to the return of the windows. As such we will certainly be writing some more pieces on the project, which will see every part of this wonderful building transformed and reworked to continue its civic role at the heart of South Shields.