Main Contractor: Holden Conservation
Architect: Bradford City Council
• Restoration and reproduction of ornate plaster mouldings
• Lime plaster repairs to ceiling
St George’s Hall is a Grade II* listed Victorian building located in the centre of Bradford. The concept of the Hall was proposed in 1849. As Bradford grew in size it became clear there was a need for a venue for public performances. The design for the building was chosen from more than 22 designs, Henry Francis Lockwood and William Mawson winning the competition. Built of ashlar sandstone masonry in neoclassical style, and financed by German Jewish wool merchants who had moved to Bradford because of the booming textile industry, St George’s Hall opened on 29 August 1853.
The laying of the foundation stone on September 22nd 1851 was considered to be such a huge occasion for the residents of Bradford that they were awarded a public holiday. The Hall was officially opened on August 29th 1853 by HRH Queen Victoria and HRH Prince Albert, with the Earl of Harewood also present.
Following World War II the Hall underwent extensive repairs and remodelling. Further remedial works were needed after fires in the 1980s. In Autumn2003 small cracks in the ceiling were discovered and, following initial talks with Bradford Council, Ornate Interiors were appointed by London-based Holden Conservation to carry out the repairs.
Concerns for public safety meant the Hall was closed for three months while the repairs were carried out in situ by plasterers working from a birdcage scaffold, using lime plaster to treat all previously-identified cracks. Further works involved the removal of sections of damaged plaster mouldings, which were taken to the Leeds workshop to create models and moulds. The mouldings included wide soffit sections, upstands, corbels, lattice frieze panels and cornices. These were then re-cast in fibrous plaster and transported back to the Hall for installation to the main hall ceiling, the Proscenium Arch and balcony fronts.
The Hall opened again in January 2004 with a performance by The Halle Orchestra. With a seating capacity of just over 1500 the Hall offers a wide range of entertainment for the people of Bradford.
Ornate Interiors continued their relationship with Bradford Theatres and Bradford City Council by undertaking the quinquennial inspections to the ceilings at both St George’s Hall and the Alhambra Theatre.
“Ornate Interiors are delighted to have helped restore the oldest concert hall still in use in the UK, and the third oldest in the whole of Europe. Venues such as this enable artists – whether musicians, singers, actors, comedians or other performers – to engage large numbers of people from all walks of life in shared experiences that enrich their lives.”
Ronnie Clifford, Managing Director, Ornate Interiors