Local heritage enthusiasts are being offered the chance to play a unique role in the restoration of Rochdale Town Hall, with 14 rare and important volunteering opportunities up for grabs.
The roles, with the Lancashire Conservation Studio and Tim Phelps Fine Furniture Restoration, will get underway in October 2021, when the first volunteers will start.
The work will involve working on the most precious parts of the building
Those taking part will get to work on some of the most precious parts of the building, including the intricately painted walls, which will be cleaned, alongside the carved wood panelling which adorns the walls of the great hall and other rooms. They will also work on the stunning Minton tiled floors and learn how to clean, handle and display important items and furniture.
Jenny Truran, from Lancashire Conservation Studio, said: "As well as helping people get into the bones of this marvellous building, this course will give them a really important grounding in wider heritage conservation practices, which will set them in good stead to pursue a career in the art, museum or heritage sector. This is a rarefied field which is incredibly rewarding to work in, but very difficult to break into.
"We're looking for enthusiastic self-starters, who are interested in heritage with good practical skills and mobility and in return they'll get first class training and support and trips off site during the course to further their knowledge, with all costs covered."
The first set of volunteers will start in October 2021
The first 6 volunteers will start their course on 11 October 2021, with the second group starting in April 2022. 2 additional volunteers will also get the chance to work with specialist restorer, Tim Phelps Fine Furniture Restoration. The course will run for 12 weeks, with breaks for school holidays. It will take place 3 full days a week, with volunteers expected to commit to a minimum of 2 days' attendance each week.
Those who excel on the course may be offered the opportunity to apply for a full time job in the town hall's building maintenance team once it reopens to the public in 2023. Follow up advice and support will be offered to anyone who wants to pursue a career in the arts and heritage sector and those who complete the course will also be given the chance to take part in further volunteering opportunities in the building.
Councillor John Blundell, cabinet member for economy and communications at Rochdale Borough Council, said: "The restoration of the town hall is about much more than restoring this wonderful building and opening up hidden spaces inside; it's about creating fantastic opportunities for our residents, which will benefit them in the long term. These volunteer placements will give them the chance to get underneath the skin of this fascinating place, so they can look back when it reopens knowing that they were a part of this important stage of its history. Not only that, they will get the chance to pick up a unique skillset which could open up a whole new career for them."
Anyone who's interested can attend a talk by the Lancashire Conservation Studio on Monday, 23 August 2021
Jenny and her team will be putting on talks for anyone who would like to know more about these opportunities on Monday, 23 August 2021. They will take place in the soon-to-open Crossland Community Cabin, which is located in front of the town hall, opposite the Medicine Tap pub on the Esplanade, Rochdale OL16 1AB.
The cabin will be signposted from the hoardings which currently surround the construction site. The talks will take place at 10am, 12 noon and 2pm.
The volunteering opportunities are part of the wider restoration of Rochdale Town Hall which is supported by the council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.