THE TRUE scale of the work needed to bring Ashton’s town hall back into use has been revealed.
Tameside Council has put forward a proposal to at least make the building safe before being made nice to the eye.
Bringing the town hall – built in 1840 but closed since 2015 – back to what it once was was one of the key aims for the near £30 million award of Levelling Up funding.
And a series of reports have spelled out just what needs to be done, with rotting roof beams, crumbling masonry, failed drainage meaning it holds water and other structural defects needing urgent attention.
Some deficiencies have even been described as ‘dangerous’ and the stage area in the ballroom is set to be ripped out.
In-depth investigations have been carried out on the structure and the results did not make for pretty reading.
Rot in the timber is rife and the masonry, both internal and external is in poor condition.
A report states: “The timber damp rot survey has outlined numerous outbreaks of both wet and dry rot to parts of the building.
“The timber stair leading from the stage to the intervention mezzanine changing rooms adjacent has been condemned by the structural engineer.
“Existing timber landings and stair treads have rotten through and failed and are identified for removal.
“The planned use of this space going forward is intended to reinstate the single principal ballroom level bringing in temporary staging equipment where required for functions.
“There are timber support beams across the corner supporting the main roof beam for the valley of the roof, and purlins.
“Inside the valley beam at the base readings were found to be 20.4 per cent moisture.
“The purlin end was found, once drilled into to be found to be decayed to the point replacement is necessary
“The western gable and rear-facing walls to the west and north elevations more generally exhibit several areas of crudely formed and incomplete structural openings in the masonry skeleton which require remedial intervention.
“Generally the masonry work is very poor and jambs will need properly rebuilt and tooth-bonded into the walls to implement a permanent repair.”
And documents spell out the issues regarding masonry, areas of which have been greatly affected by water ingress.
They add: “The expressed balustered masonry parapets to the southern frontage, and the plainer parapets and wallhead copings to the side and rear elevations are in poor condition, and in places dangerous.
“This is as a result of embedded iron cramps and dowels, corroding and splitting the stone. Significant structural intervention is required at this level.”
Tameside Council has been presented with an exhaustive list of things that need repairing, with the along the most urgent being taking down and rebuilding parapets on the southern and eastern frontages, along with fixing how those on the western and northern sides are attached.
And a big change will see the stage in the ballroom removed with expert reports detailing why it must be.
They say: “The brickwork to the side elevation in this location is saturated due to water ingress from the parapet wall above on the eastern elevation.
“This also provides access to remove redundant pipework and carry out repairs to roof area three.
“Future use plans currently identify that a permanent fixed stage may not be required as part of future operations.
“Upon removal of the stage floor loadings will be reviewed to assess stage hire as part of future flexibility.”
Tameside Council’s Speakers Panel (Planning) committee will decide on the application to take the restoration forward.