Funding boost for architectural gem inside Leeds Town Hall

A project to protect and restore an architectural gem inside Leeds Town Hall has received a major funding boost.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 11:30 am
The Leeds Town Hall organ pictured in 1925. PIC: Leeds Libraries, www.leodis.net
The Leeds Town Hall organ pictured in 1925. PIC: Leeds Libraries, www.leodis.net

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has pledged a grant of £249,810 towards work on the majestic Victoria Hall which is home to Leeds Town Hall organ.

Victoria Hall dates back to 1858, when the spectacular building was first opened by Queen Victoria and today it hosts a huge programme of concerts and events.

The scheme will restore the main decorative features of the magnificent performance space, including the impressive façade of organ.

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The years have begun to take their toll on some of the hall’s earlier decorative features, which have fallen into significant disrepair. Without expert work being carried out, some of those features are at risk of being lost, including sections of wall, columns, and ornamental features.

The project will see a team of specialist decorative artists strip back layers of dirt, dust, and urban pollution to reveal an earlier artistic vision for the hall.

Work will also focus on fully restoring the decorative scheme on the Leeds Town Hall organ which includes intricate hand painted stencil designs on all the instruments façade pipes which have been hidden for decades.

Restoration works will take place during the planned closure of the building which will also see major refurbishment works and the full renewal of the organ and its internal components.

David Renwick, director, North of England, at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage is an incredibly powerful force for good, but it doesn’t work if we let it live in the past. Using heritage to engage people and communities can increase enjoyment of the places we live in or visit, boosting wellbeing and benefiting the local economy. The North of England has a huge range of heritage, from nature to buildings, from cities to the people who bring them to life.

“This variety is matched only by the diversity of our communities and the potential we see in Northern heritage is enormous. We have invested in so many exciting projects across the North since 1994 - all thanks to players of the National Lottery – and we are keen to see even more as we look forward, particularly as they can play an important role in recovery from Covid-19. The Leeds Town Hall project to restore the Victoria Hall and open it up to communities is a great example that we are proud to support.”

Coun Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “It’s fantastic to hear that the project to restore Victoria Hall to its former glory has received such a significant funding boost and we’re grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for recognising how important it is that this work takes place.

“Leeds Town Hall is one of Leeds’s most recognisable buildings and an absolutely integral part of the city’s story and identity so it’s hugely important that we protect and preserve this beautiful example of Victorian architecture for future generations."

He added: “The town hall is also a focal point for an extensive and diverse programme of events which not only generate income for the city but also help put Leeds on the map as a world class cultural destination.”

The restoration project will also include a far-reaching community engagement programme with talks and presentations, workshops for families and young people and the commission of a new artwork by Pyramid of Arts.”

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