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Local company snaps up coveted commission to redesign town hall restaurant

Credit: Rochdale Council

A Middleton based company has been appointed to lead the transformation of the Clock Tower dining room as part of the multi-million pound restoration of Rochdale Town Hall.

The team at interior construction specialists, Dragonfly, will create a stunning offer within the existing cafe space, which has been remodelled as part of the wider town hall restoration project to include a second entrance and an outdoor seating area and terracing at the back.

The creatives won the pitch with their plans to bring the outside in with extensive planting to create a botanical feel and their idea for a rich deep red and blue colour palette with elements of green, to mirror some of the beautiful colours found on the painted walls throughout the building.

A variety of seating will be introduced to cater for different audiences, including cosy soft seating, booths, banquettes and higher tables and chairs for shorter-stay diners.

The commission is part of the ongoing restoration of the Grade I listed town hall, which includes the restoration of many of the building’s heritage features and the opening up of spaces for community use, which were previously hidden from public view. These include a special exhibition space, which will tell the story of Rochdale, its history and its people and a new bright hall, which will complement the existing great hall and can be used for smaller events. New entrances and lifts will make the building fully accessible for the first time, while the opening times will be increased to encourage visitors to pop in and have a look around at their leisure.

Dragonfly will use their experience transforming other historic gems, including the Fire Up co-working space in Rochdale’s Grade II listed old fire station, to create something fresh and new which also honours the town hall’s rich history. Historic England will be closely involved in helping to refine the plans as the project moves forward to ensure the changes honour the building’s coveted listed status. The name of the dining room will also be changed to reflect this exciting new chapter in the life of the town hall.

Local schoolchildren will also play a special role in the restaurant’s design, with Year 3 students from St. Margaret’s Primary School, Rochdale, working with Rochdale based artists, May Wild Studio, to create a piece of art, which will frame the doorway. The mosaic will feature pieces of pottery uncovered beneath Town Hall Square as part of the archaeological dig which took place in summer 2021.

Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for equalities, safety and reform at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “The restoration and rebirth of this incredible building and the space around it is coming along at pace and the appointment of a local company to redesign the much loved restaurant area is an important part of this wider transformation.

“We want the new town hall to be welcoming for all, and a good dining space is an important part of that. It’s something people can access easily, day-to-day, for a quick brew with friends or meal with loved ones. The outdoor seating and terracing we’re creating at the restaurant will also mean that guests with limited mobility can get inside the town hall really easily and access all the wonderful things it has to offer.

“I’m particularly pleased that a local company has won this contract, as, from volunteers to artists, schoolchildren and businesses, local people have been at the heart of this project from the very beginning.”

Tess McKenna, business development manager at Dragonfly, said: “As soon as we saw this commission we really, really wanted it. Rochdale Town Hall is such an iconic building and it’s known and loved by people across the borough and beyond. It’s a huge honour to be given the chance to work on this project and we’ll make sure that this important area lives up to the grandeur of the rest of this incredible building as part of its wider restoration.”

Rochdale Town Hall is being redeveloped by Rochdale Development Agency on behalf of Rochdale Borough Council, with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It is expected to reopen to the public before the end of 2023.

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