The Moot Hall in Colchester Town Hall is expected to remain closed for repairs throughout 2024 due to significant damage to the ceiling.
Extensive and ongoing structural survey work has revealed that the ceiling is no longer safe and needs to be rebuilt. The first phase of works, which are currently underway, are focused on stabilising the ceiling to allow for the more extensive repairs to take place.
Cllr David King, Leader of Colchester City Council, said: “After a thorough inspection, it was clear that the ceiling of the Moot Hall was in a state of disrepair and posed a significant safety hazard. We have no choice but to close the Moot Hall until the repairs are complete.
“The safety of our residents and visitors is our top priority. We understand that this closure will be an inconvenience for the public, but the repairs to the Moot Hall ceiling are essential to ensure the safety of the building. We will be working closely with Colchester Events to relocate affected events and will keep everyone updated on the progress of the repairs.”
Colchester Events, which manages bookings for the Moot Hall, will be reaching out to those who have made reservations to relocate their events to an alternative venue. The remainder of the Town Hall will remain open for weddings and other events as usual.
The estimated timescale for the repairs is for the Moot Hall to be out of action for the entire calendar year of 2024. However, this is subject to change as more information becomes available.
“We are committed to preserving this beautiful landmark building for future generations and are working with specialist contractors to complete the repairs as quickly as possible. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during this time,” said Cllr King.
The Moot Hall is a Grade I listed building, which means that it is of exceptional architectural or historic interest. The ceiling is made of suspended fibrous plaster, which is susceptible to damage from water ingress, vibration, impact, overload, and age.
Many theatres in the UK were built with suspended fibrous plaster ceilings, and several have collapsed in recent years. In 2019, the ceiling of London’s Piccadilly Theatre collapsed, injuring five people. In 2018, the ceiling of Ipswich Church collapsed, and in 2013, the ceiling of the Apollo in London collapsed.