July 12th 2023


Inspecting and preparing a plaster repair specification for the sublime halls at the Royal Exchange

As part of their obligation to ensure the safety of visitors and staff at the Royal Exchange Theatre, the theatre and their landlords M Womersleys were asked to undertake initial surveys to be undertaken of the historic plasters above capital tops.

The report will identify for each area:                                                                                                    

·        The location of required repairs indicated on outline drawings of the plasterwork.

·        A full schedule of required plaster repairs

·        An initial budget cost for the plasterwork repairs

A Brief History of the Royal Exchange:

Historically, Manchester and the surrounding cotton towns traded in spun yarn and finished goods throughout the world. Manchester's first exchange opened in 1729, as trade continued to expand, larger premises were required. The third trading hall, the Royal Exchange building, was designed by Mills & Murgatroyd, and constructed between 1867 and 1874, see photos A to C below.  It was extended and modified by Bradshaw Gass & Hope between 1914 and 1931, to form the largest trading hall in England, photos D & E. The trading hall was double the size of the current hall and the colonnade parallel to Cross Street marked its centre. The exchange was seriously damaged during World War II when it took a direct hit from a bomb during a German air raid in the Manchester Blitz at Christmas in 1940, photo F. Its interior was rebuilt with a smaller trading area. Trading ceased in 1968, and the building was threatened with demolition.

Lying unused and empty, a theatre company took up residence in 1973 and the Royal Exchange Theatre Company was officially founded in 1976, along with the largest in-the-round theatre space in the country. Weighing in at 150 tonnes, the module imposes weight down four of the Hall’s principal columns. In 1996 an IRA bomb was detonated less than fifty metres away from the Royal Exchange building. The resulting explosion devastated the building, and it would take two years, and over 32 million pounds from the National Lottery, to repair the damage.

July 12th 2023

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