G F Tomlinson restores historical town halls and market hall in Stoke-on-Trent

Longton Town Hall

Regional contractor G F Tomlinson has been entrusted with sensitively restoring two historic halls which date back to the 1800s and a market hall in the city of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

Valued at a total of £6.5m, the restorations are being delivered on behalf of the City of Stoke-on-Trent Council to Longton Town Hall, Hanley Market Hall and Tunstall Town Hall.

The Hanley and Longton schemes were successfully completed in the second half of last year, with work to Tunstall Town Hall still ongoing. All three schemes were procured through the Scape Regional Construction framework.

The Longton Town Hall works involved the remodelling and refurbishment of the ground floor and public toilets in the adjoining market hall, as well as the installation of a new office area and staff room together with the refurbishment of the existing meeting room, creating a new local centre for Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Externally the building now features a wall of locally manufactured ceramic tiles, to symbolise the ‘potteries’ heritage in the region, as well as bold new signage outside the entrance of the market hall.

The building dates back to 1863 and retains many of its Victorian features including a large central porch which was originally designed to admit horse-drawn carriages, and a central staircase along the spine of the building.

The Hanley Market Hall, based in Stoke-on-Trent city centre, is home to 130 stalls and its restoration was delivered in a challenging live working environment, requiring a robust logistics plan and ongoing cooperation to ensure the area remained safe to the public.

Features such as being one of the first public areas within the region to benefit from a new state-of-the-art disabled-friendly toilet, which is part of the council’s ‘Changing Places’ initiative, has made the building more inclusive and welcoming, and the completed refurbishments have helped to revitalise the space and attract more people back to the market.

The market hall now also boasts upgraded lighting, new ceilings, wall finishings, flooring, and redecorated stall fronts to create a more vibrant place to shop. The scheme was successfully delivered working alongside Birmingham-based, multi-national construction consultancy, AECOM.

Works continue on the historic Tunstall Town Hall, a Grade II Listed building which dates back to 1854 and is in urgent need of repair, with much of the existing timber beams and front façade decaying.

The careful restoration process includes installing new windows and flitch beams along with stone and masonry replacement and external re-pointing. Internally it will undergo an extensive upgrade including new walls, floors and ceilings decorated in heritage paints to the exact colours they would have been when first built in 1854.

Due to be completed in spring 2021, the hall will also include two shop units, a children’s centre and a library, as well as rentable office space, to create a fully inclusive community facility.

Both the Tunstall and Longton Town Halls schemes involved working alongside Birmingham-based global consultancy, Gleeds.

G F Tomlinson, which has offices in Derbyshire and Birmingham, specialises in heritage restoration.

Chris Flint, director at G F Tomlinson, said: “With extensive experience working on restoration, heritage and community projects across the region, it has been a real pleasure for us to work on the regeneration of these historic halls in the West Midlands city of Stoke-on-Trent.

“All three projects were procured through the Scape Regional Construction framework, bringing huge benefits to the delivery of the project, removing the need for a costly and lengthy tender process, and adding overall value for the client.

“We’re really pleased with the results of Longton Town Hall and Hanley Market Hall – our team and supply team have done an amazing job and we look forward to seeing Tunstall follow suit.”

Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, infrastructure and heritage at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “We understand how important our historic buildings are. The town halls in Tunstall and Longton are fantastic assets and provide a constant reminder of how rich in heritage our city is.

“The aim of the work is to not only invest in their heritage, but also to make them modern, fit-for-purpose buildings that breathe new life into the high street, and ensure the community can access face-to-face services. Along with the improvements to Hanley Indoor Market, the work at Longton and Tunstall directly benefit the markets which are connected to both buildings, so we are really seeing a range of benefits from this investment into our heritage.”