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Science and Industry Museum celebrates milestone in its mission to restore the historic Power Hall

The Science and Industry Museum has celebrated a milestone in its ambitious project to restore the iconic Grade II listed Power Hall.

The external scaffolding that has shrouded the building for the past three years has started to be disassembled, giving a glimpse of the 19th century brickwork for the first time since 2019.

Scaffolding being removed from the outside an old warehouse

The scaffolding surrounding Power Hall makes up one of the largest free-standing scaffolding structures in Europe. If all the materials creating the structure were laid end to end, they would stretch from the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester to its sister site, the National Railway Museum in York, and back again. Owing to its scale, it is expected to take around 12 weeks to disassemble. 

Power Hall is part of a multi-million-pound regeneration project taking place across the Science and Industry Museum. The Power Hall temporarily closed its doors in 2019 to allow for urgent maintenance works to be carried out on the roof (thanks to £6 million from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), and this latest milestone follows hot on the heels of the last roof slate being laid earlier in the week, marking an end to this aspect of the project.

A workman laying a tile on a roof
The final tile being laid

Full renovation works to the roof, which is the length of a premiere league football pitch, have included:

  • A full retile in order to futureproof the building, making it wind and weather resistant and ensuring Power Hall can continue to inspire visitors for years to come.
  • The preservation of the original tiles to allow contractors to reuse the majority when retiling.
  • Repairs to the timber trusses.
  • New guttering to manage the predicted increase in rainfall over coming years.
  • The installation of new roof lights to help retain heat.
  • The installation of sustainable wood-fibre roof insulation, made from the waste created when timber is sawn, to improve the building’s carbon emissions.
Scaffolding above a tiled roof

The Science and Industry Museum will now be moving on to reimagine the gallery itself, which is home to one of the UK's largest collections of working steam engines, the majority of which were built in Manchester. When it reopens, visitors will be able to delve deeper into the lives of the skilled engineers, makers and technicians who worked with the engines, understanding the relationship between humans and machines that powered the industrial revolution and beyond.

Built in 1855 as the shipping shed for Liverpool Road Station, the world's first purpose-built passenger railway station, the Power Hall is one of the most beloved industrial heritage galleries in the country.  

Fast forward to today, and Power Hall is also front and centre of the green revolution. Sustainability has been fundamental to its transformation, which is as part of a wider decarbonisation scheme currently underway across the Science and Industry Museum. 

Following a £4.3million grant from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund to transform its environmental sustainability and place zero carbon technology at the heart of its visitor experience, the museum has harnessed the power of natural ground water across its seven-acre site to create a new water-source heat pump network, enabling new and green ways to heat its building and power its historic working machinery. This is a visionary, sector-leading project which combines historical elements of the museum’s site with the latest green technology. 

Other environmental measures in Power Hall include a new electric boiler, upgrades to the roof and windows, and new sustainable insulation. This ambitious project aims to save 515 tonnes of carbon per year across the site, transforming the museum’s environmental sustainability, improving energy efficiency and lowering carbon emissions across the site. This in turn will supporting the museum’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2033 and Greater Manchester’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2038—12 years ahead of the national target.  

Mark Tomlinson, Masterplan Delivery Manager at the Science and Industry Museum, said:

'This is a really exciting moment in the progress of this project. Our historic buildings tell their own stories of ideas that change the world, and it will be fantastic for Power Hall to be unwrapped and visible once again.

'We’re really proud of the sustainability credentials of this project. It’s fitting that the city which led the way in developing coal-fired mass production, and the museum that today tells that story, should now be helping to spearhead society’s move towards a more sustainable future, and Power Hall sits front and centre in that.'

For more information about the Science and Industry Museum's multi-million-pound regeneration project, visit the We are changing section of the website.


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