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Power Hall (Reopening mid-2025)

Power Hall is one of the most beloved industrial heritage galleries in the country. It houses one of the UK's largest collections of working steam engines, the majority of which were built right here in Greater Manchester. 

Since 2019, the globally important, Grade II listed building has been temporarily closed to allow for crucial restoration works. As well as urgent roof and timber repairs, installing new windows and doors, and carrying out wider building conservation, we’ve also been undertaking a sector-leading decarbonisation project to drastically reduce the building’s carbon emissions. 

We’re not just conserving and future-proofing the building itself, we’re also reimagining its internal gallery. Visitors will be able to explore engineering innovations through working machines and the stories of the people who developed and worked with them. 

Our vision is to create a lively, working gallery that will continue to inspire visitors for years to come. 

Power Hall is due to reopen in Spring 2025.

The work to Power Hall is part of a multi-million-pound regeneration project currently taking place across the Science and Industry Museum to conserve its historic buildings and reveal new spaces and perspectives for all visitors to enjoy, play and learn in.

What’s been happening on Power Hall?

Conservation works

As a globally important, Grade II listed building, it’s essential that our work to restore Power Hall protects and respects its history. We are working in a way that preserves the heritage of the building while extending its life by at least a century. 

Restoration work that has been completed includes: 

  • Full building scaffold construction and post-work deconstruction (one of the largest free-standing scaffolding structures in Europe it took several months to assemble and disassemble owing to its scale).   
  • Demolition of external 1980s platform to enable better access to the building 
  • Roof stripped, dried out, insulated and retiled to futureproof the building, making it wind and weather resistant. 
  • The preservation of original tiles to allow contractors to reuse the majority when retiling. 
  • The installation of sustainable wood-fibre roof insulation, made from the waste created when timber is sawn, to make the building more energy efficient.  
  • The installation of new insulated roof lights, windows and doors to help retain heat. 
  • New guttering to manage the predicted increase in rainfall over coming years. 
  • Repairs to the timber trusses. 
  • Historic object moves and relocations within the gallery. 
  • Installation of new electric boiler and water source heat pump technology. 
  • Installation of new LED lighting and routes for services. 
  • Conservation of historic brickwork.

Decarbonisation

As a science museum, we want to harness the latest sustainable technologies to heat and light our historic buildings, as well as power our historical collection in a greener way.

We are delivering a sector-leading programme of decarbonisation across the site that places zero carbon technologies at the heart of the visitor experience and creates a sustainable museum for the future. 

Power Hall sits at the heart of this vision. Decarbonisation work that has already taken place includes:

  • Installing energy-efficient windows and doors.
  • Insulating the roof to make the building more energy efficient.
  • Drilling boreholes in our Upper and Lower Yards, the deepest to a depth of 135 meters – the height of 30 double decker buses stacked on top of each other.  These have allowed us to access the natural resource of water from an underground aquifer to heat our buildings, a renewable resource which was first used in the early 19th century.
  • The clean energy harnessed from this system will also be used the building. 
  • Installation of an electric boiler to produce the steam needed to run our historic steam engines. 
  • When we run our historic engines, waste heat will feed the heat pumps to provide sustainable heating for our New Warehouse building. 

What’s still to come?

Reimagining the internal gallery

Power Hall will be a lively, working gallery, full of engines that changed the world and continue to inspire future innovations. Visitors will be inspired by our world-class collection of engines made in Greater Manchester.

Power Hall will bring to life the people behind the power. We will tell the stories of the engineers, makers and technicians who use their skills and senses to create and care for engines, both today and in the past. 

The gallery will offer visitors the unique opportunity to explore these machines as well as the museum's journey towards becoming carbon-neutral, seeing the 21st-century green technology used to power the historic engines and heat the gallery space.

Work to reimagine the gallery will include:

  • New live demonstrations of working engines from our team of expert Explainers.
  • New interpretation that offers a fresh perspective on our collection and reveals the people who worked with these engines every day; running whole factories, pulling trains across India, or kneading bread in a local bakery.
  • Showcasing stories that inspire future generations to take up careers in science, technology engineering and maths.
  • Lots of different ways to explore the collection, including new interactive activities for visitors to explore.

To get to this point, we need to complete a number of internal construction and conservation works, including: 

  • Completion of windows, doors and the creation of a new visitor entrance in the centre of the building 
  • Completion of flooring, walkways, balustrades and gates 
  • Continued conservation and testing of historic working machinery
  • Further community, partner and audience consultation and testing for the new gallery interpretation, visitor, volunteering and skills-based programmes 
  • Developing the design, content and interactives for the gallery experience 
  • Testing and finalising visitor and schools' programmes 
  • Exhibition installation 

Our funders

This project has been made possible with the support of our funders, including £6million from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and additional funding from the Science Museum Group. 

Our title funder is The Law Family Charitable Foundation, whose £3million donation is the museum's largest philanthropic gift to date. Other funders include  The Beaverbrooks Charitable TrustAtmos International and Zochonis Charitable Trust.

Our decarbonisation of the Power Hall has been made possible by funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategies as part of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, delivered by Salix Finance.

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