RAVAGED in a moronic arson attack in March this year, Wythenshawe Hall has since found itself placed on Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register and the subject of a vigorous fundraising campaign. After countless hours shifting through debris, assessing the property’s integrity and building a protective temporary roof, there is still nevertheless a long way to go - but the next step in restoring the Grade II-listed Tudor gem should soon be underway.
It’s heartening to reach a point where repairs to the exterior of the building can begin
A planning application - developed by council advisors, conservation architects, engineers, surveyors and Historic England - has been submitted to rebuild the clock tower and undertake repair works to the roof and exterior walls. Having been renewed since the last repair programme in the 1950s, conservation guidelines and practises mean approval is necessary because some elements cannot be replaced exactly like-for-like.
With sympathy to the original structure of paramount importance, the philosophy of the repair project is to retain and repair as much material as possible. Fire damaged timbers that remain sufficiently strong will remain, while those too badly weakened will be salvaged as best can be; with new timber spliced in or bolted adjacent to the original material. In line with current conservation best practice, meanwhile, the fire will be able to be read as part of the building’s history.
The application is expected to be referred to the Secretary of State who will be asked to endorse Historic England’s recommendations. If planning consent is approved, and once a suitable contractor with the appropriate heritage skills is appointed, work on the Hall is expected to commence in spring 2017.
The hall before the blaze
The insurance company is working alongside the Council to determine the detail of the works and who will be appointed to do them. Subsequent applications will follow in relation to the proposed interior repairs.
Cllr Sue Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “So much work has gone on inside the Hall to protect it and salvage anything of architectural value, but it’s so heartening to reach a point where the repairs to the exterior of the building can begin.
“This is an important milestone for the local community who rallied to support the effort to save the property and the visible signs of the repair work will be a comfort to those who thought the fire could be the end for Wythenshawe Hall.”
Richard Jackson, Chair of Friends of Wythenshawe Hall, said: "The Friends of Wythenshawe Hall have been on a roller coaster of emotions since March when it seemed as if Wythenshawe Hall may have suffered terminal damage in the fire.
“Now, with the path to full restoration already well underway, The Friends would like to thank all those who have put so much effort into making sure the Hall in the not so distant future will open its doors to visitors once again.”
The extent of the works so far can be seen below:
Just after the fire...
Following remedial repair works...