Our Town Hall – Glass Conservation


Recclesia began stained glass conservation work at Manchester Town Hall as part of the UK's largest historic building conservation project in June 2021, having been commissioned to undertake work to the Great Hall and Staircases the jewels in the crown of the magnificent town hall building. Designated as the most highly significant part of the building, the great hall is full to the brim with heritage details, from the tremendous windows to a spectacular organ, carved stonework and a breath-taking decorative ceiling, and magical wall paintings by Ford Madox Brown.

After completing extensive survey work to report on condition and create an asset catalogue, removal of the enormous windows began in July 2021. Both of the Recclesia Stained Glass studios in North Wales and Manchester worked on this project through 2021 and 2022. The teams meticulously conserved every single section of glass, piece by tiny piece, applying their extensive glass conservation expertise to these outstanding windows, a key part of Manchester's built heritage.

A major part of the project was committing to provide a number of employment and training benefits as part of the social value aims. This included our recruiting for three traineeship positions at various levels of qualification and skillset, including Carlotta Cammelli, a recent MA graduate from York, who has since gone on to become the studio lead of our Manchester studio.

As a company we feel it is so important to be able recognise people’s skills and experience, and to enable them to grow. Not only for the individual, but also for the business. The approaches on the OTH project with regards to Social Values enabled us to further explore ways for traditional skills to be handed down to a new wave of stained-glass conservators and glaziers, nurturing and securing a vibrant future for our ancient crafts. This included all of our employees obtaining new qualifications or achieving higher levels of qualification, including NVQ levels 2/3/6, Membership Accreditations, and adding to the portfolios of team members on the ICON Pathway for ACR, like Carlotta. Building conservation aside, the OTH project has proved an excellent casing point for skills development and how this approach can help a project succeed.

As an accredited Living Wage Employer, Recclesia is committed to developing and training its specialist workforce whilst ensuring that our apprentice staff can afford to train in heritage skills on a long-term basis, and that we create a meaningful skills legacy for not only the Manchester and North Wales areas where we’re based but nationwide. This approach is vital in the Conservation & Heritage sector as skills are integral for the success of any heritage project and the work on Manchester Town Hall was an exemplary case. Ensuring everyone was supporting one another’s development and learning from each other is the only way of ultimately securing traditional conservation skills and craftsmanship for the future.

Article – Lee Bilson – Conservation Manager at Recclesia.


Sign up to receive our journal.

Download Journal