Full refurbishment works on Wolverhampton’s Civic Halls will get underway on Monday after City of Wolverhampton Council appointed a contractor. Enabling works for the £14.4 million refurbishment of the Grade II listed venue were completed last year. Shaylor Group has now been handed the job of delivering the remainder of the scheme that will see major changes made to the Civic Hall and Wulfrun Hall in phases.
Both halls will reopen at their current capacity for a host of public events between October 21, 2017, and January 1, 2018, with big names like Jimmy Carr, John Bishop, Jon Richardson and Ed Byrne already booked in, as well as the Grand Slam of Darts. The Civic Hall will then close again, while the Wulfrun Hall will remain open for events, with work continuing on construction of its new rear balcony during daytime hours.
Both halls are expected to be fully completed by October, 2018. Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “This is an exciting time in the project when we will begin to see real changes to the Civic Halls. “The halls have been around since 1938 and are an important part of our visitor economy – providing jobs and generating millions of pounds every year by staging nationally acclaimed shows. As part of our regeneration plans for the city we recognised the Grade II listed building is in need of refurbishment, as well as improvement to ensure it remains a thriving venue to be proud of.
“The increased capacity of the Civic Halls will make them a more attractive place in the entertainment market, enabling them to attract significantly more popular and prestigious acts, while retaining the current characteristics that make them popular with performers, producers and audiences. The importance of their contribution to the visitor economy was highlighted by Wolverhampton last year making the top ten in a major survey of the best live music scenes in the UK.”
Richard Sapcote, Shaylor Group Heritage Specialist, added: “Our team are very excited to begin the intricate process of transforming the Civic Halls. “Shaylor Group has been selected to carry out the works thanks to our outstanding reputation in the heritage sector and particular expertise in performance facilities. We look forward to working with City of Wolverhampton Council and providing the city with a world-class facility.”
The full refurbishment will also deliver a new Civic Hall balcony at the rear of the hall, with the added benefit of an improved view of the stage for more customers. A new glass-covered bar area will also be installed above the main entrance of the Civic Hall, servicing the new upper level. The organ, which sits in the roof, will also be removed from the Civic Hall to enable better ventilation for fire safety and to make adjustments to the stage area in order to attract bigger shows to the venue. The council are working with Historic England to preserve the organ and find it a new location.
Capacity in both halls will increase and hospitality areas will be improved. The Civic Halls is the largest business in the Black Country’s creative and entertainment sector, generating £4.3 million of Gross Value Added (GVA) in the Wolverhampton economy. The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal fund has made a £6.6 million contribution towards the cost of the project.
Stewart Towe, Black Country LEP Chair, said: “The Growth Deal is helping the Black Country LEP to invest in, and change the landscape of, the whole Black Country. It is fantastic that we will begin to see the transformation of the Civic Halls, which will further enhance the Black Country cultural offer.
“With significant investment in Wolverhampton’s Civic Halls, alongside Growth Deal projects across our whole area supporting people to develop their skills, building homes for our residents and investing in infrastructure, we are really beginning to see a strong economic future for the Black Country.”