Vital repair work to Colchester’s historic Town Hall has been carried out, less than two months after a section of ceiling became unsafe.
Planning for the essential maintenance work to fix an area of ceiling plaster underneath the balcony in the Moot Hall, began in early January. A temporary repair has been undertaken to protect and support the original lath and plaster. Later in the year, the temporary repairs will be removed and the ceiling fully restored using approved techniques, to preserve as much of the original plaster as possible.
The Moot Hall needed to close during the repairs, but the rest of the Town Hall remained open for council business, weddings hires and council meetings. The familiar chimes of the Town Hall clock also had to be temporarily switched off, to prevent vibrations further damaging the area of plasterwork.
The cost of the temporary repair work, which was carried out by a specialist contractor in consultation with the council’s historic buildings officer, was approximately £7,000. The cost for the permanent repair work, which will also be carried out by a specialist contractor, is currently being obtained.
It has been many years since this part of the Town Hall required any restoration but being a Grade I listed building, Colchester City Council has a legal duty to ensure it is maintained and preserved in a good state of repair.
Several paintings on display in Moot Hall were removed by specialists from Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service and safely stored, while repairs were undertaken. The paintings, including the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, were rehung on 6 February attended by the artist Richard Stone, who took the opportunity to take some new photos of his famous work.
Cllr Mark Cory, Portfolio Holder for Resources, said: “I would like to thank everyone involved in undertaking these essential repairs. Their skills will help preserve Moot Hall’s ceiling for posterity.
“We are fortunate to have at the heart of our civic life one of the best examples of late-Victorian municipal architecture in the country. Colchester Town Hall is a landmark Grade 1 listed building of exceptionally rich design that is used widely by the community and visited often. Given its cultural significance, and in line with best practice, we have been able to keep the best of our history in the finest shape possible for many more years to come.”
Page last reviewed: 15 February 2023