Rochdale Town Hall

The restoration of the Grade I-listed Rochdale Town Hall is a heritage-led regeneration project that imbues pride and ownership in the local community.

Decorative pendant lighting in a highly-decorative interior hall

Key information


Donald Insall Associates


Rochdale Development Agency



Year of Completion






Rochdale Town Hall, designed by William H Crossland and opened in 1871, stands as one of the most historically significant buildings in the country – described by Historic England as being ‘rivalled in importance only by those contained within the Palace of Westminster’. But by early in the 21st century, the building fabric had become highly compromised and deemed unfit for the changing needs of Rochdale Borough Council. 

In addition to extensive repair and restoration work undertaken to the most historically significant areas such as The Great Hall and the Mayor’s suite of rooms, previously unseen spaces are now accessible to the public for the first time. 

Over the past century, heating, ventilation and electrical installations have been unthoughtfully applied resulting in an uncared for institutional appearance to the interior. Full new mechanical and electrical installations throughout have meant that all services distribution routes are now concealed, restoring the interior to its original appearance, and bringing modern levels of comfort and efficiency. Better zoning of heating and lighting means better control and lower energy consumption, working with the new roof insulation and double-glazed windows. We restored and reused existing historic radiators so that the building is more efficient and comfortable than it ever has been - and more flexible.

A Salix Grant funded an air source heat pump and new power supply to electrify the heating system and kitchens and reduce the dependence on gas. We estimate these interventions in combination will see a 55% reduction in carbon emissions, with the infrastructure now in place to deliver a net zero carbon, fully electrified building in the future. 

Lighting design

Lighting was a key part of this restoration project with a large proportion of the fittings recovered from the building. The beautiful Great Hall pendants were fully restored and rehung from the hands of the angels (the original location of the first gas lamps). The fittings in the newly glazed porte-cochère and clock tower entrance were sourced from an architectural salvage organisation and restored.

We converted the pendant lights to dimmable LED, with the same warm colour temperature to suit a building of this age and reflect the restored stained glass more effectively. 

The lighting system now has more control. A switch at the door allows all fittings to be switched off by the last person out, so no lights are left on. Side corridors, bathrooms and offices are provided with occupancy detection so they automatically switch off when not in use. The Great Hall, Bright Hall and the Exchange all have special lighting control with scene-setting for the variety of events that will take place in these areas.

Construction crews look up at the vaulted ceiling in the great hall

Rochdale Town Hall during the construction stage

"The level of collaboration between architect, engineers, client and contractors were the closest I have ever experienced and key to the success, the level of care and attention to detail have delivered a building that is probably closer to the original brief that it ever has been in its 150 year life. "

Head and shoulders portrait of man against a black background

Director, MEP Engineering