BALLROOM'S HIDDEN TREASURES
The once-famous ballroom above the Maclure Road fire station disappeared around fifty years ago when the space was reconfigured as office accommodation for the Rochdale Fire Brigade. Now, exploratory work in connection with the restoration of this area has begun to reveal some of the room's hidden art deco features, unseen for decades. Although the first floor is not part of the new Museum project, it will be fully restored as part of the greater scheme and converted to high-class, open plan office space with the original scale and decorative features that existed when it was a ballroom. This way the new owners, Rochdale Borough Council, will be able to provide a revenue-earning return for their financial outlay whilst still respecting the room's original function. Now, with a portion of the 1960's fire brigade office construction being removed, the original vaulted ceiling and 1930s decor is slowly being revealed. The "minstrel gallery" balcony, hidden behind false ceilings and walls for so long is now visible again, with its original speckled paint finish on show, whilst the blue and yellow colouring of the beautiful curved ceiling is seeing daylight again. We even discovered a 1933 pendant light fitting - complete with its bulb - still in place ! Of course, underneath all the carpets, underlay and other materials lies the original sprung dance floor which so many older Rochdalians recall fondly. This beautiful building is slowly coming back to life and showing its beautiful architecture.
ANOTHER MAJOR FUNDER ON BOARD
Another major funder has pledged its support for our exciting new Museum project. We are very pleased to report that the Pilgrim Trust, based in central London, has awarded a grant of £10,000 towards the scheme. This means that almost all the funding is now in place for the £2m project, with work expected to start on site this summer. Many thanks to Pilgrim and all our generous supporters so far. You can still donate small amounts by clicking the "donate" button on this website.
ART DECO TREASURES REVEALED
As preparatory work continues on site, the volunteers and our architectural team have been discovering some of the features within the fire station which have been hidden for years. The design of the fire station incorporated some beautiful tiled finishes, owing more than a little to the art deco movement, and these are now being explored with a view to being fully exposed once more in the completed scheme. The volunteers have also been removing the 1930s "Southport" doors from storage in preparation for the architectural joiners to commence their restoration. These doors were removed from the 1940 Southport fire station when it was demolished a few years ago as they were very close in style to the sort of doors originally fitted to the Rochdale building. They are the same manufacturer (Laidlaw and Thompson, Manchester) and the same dimensions, so will make an ideal replacement for the much younger, plastic up-and-over doors which are currently facing Maclure Road. It is our intention to expose or replace as many of the building's beautiful period features as possible whilst providing an exciting 21st century museum within.