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Uncovered


Piece of clock tower being hoisted
Piece of clock tower being hoisted

Landmark tower restored

By Ciarán Ryan
On the 24th of May 2005, a new clock tower was placed in position on a well known local landmark - Wolverhampton's Molineux Hotel.


CLICK THE LINK ON THE TOP RIGHT OF THIS PAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS OF THE MOLINEUX HOTEL RESTORATION >>

A wet, overcast, Tuesday morning on Molineux Street. Darren Sunderland, lead worker, clock tower maker and Aston Villa fan watches his work being lowered, by crane, onto the Molineux Hotel.

Darren Sunderland
Darren Sunderland

"I'm the plumber [worker with lead] who's worked on this project." says Darren. "I've worked on Westminster Abbey, St Paul's Cathedral, Hereford Cathedral, Dome of the Rock - Jerusalem, all over, really. Mainly it's for the National Trust and English Heritage.

"What they [the construction workers on the roof of the hotel] are doing now is bolting the main frame, with the top assembly, onto the middle section. There's a lot of steelwork up there - basically the top just bolts onto the middle, which is actually the clock tower unit, which is not in place at the moment.

"From the top point you can see there, there's a 16 foot finial, of ironwork, still to be added. I've still got to do some lead work around the top to make it totally water-tight, but as soon as I've finished, the finial and the weather vane will be delivered.

"The clock tower is an absolute copy, it's all been done from the original drawings and there's nothing out of place - as far as we know.".

Piece of clock tower being lowered into position
Tower piece being lowered into position

The Molineux Hotel is a well known local landmark. It has stood on the Wolverhampton skyline since 1720, and is one of the city's 22 Grade II* listed buildings. Over the years it has passed from owner to owner, gradually becoming derelict.

After it was damaged by fire in 2003, Wolverhampton City Council bought the hotel from a local property developer, and began the process of restoring and renovating it.

Nigel Brown, Head of Project Implementation for Wolverhampton City Council, has been personally managing the restoration of the building. Umbrella in hand, he commented:

"What you're seeing today is the culmination of about 15 months work on site by Sapcotes, the City Council's contractors doing the restoration work on the Molineux Hotel.

Nigel Brown
Nigel Brown, in front of the hotel

"One of the landmark aspects of this building is the clock tower, which is
actually a Victorian addition to the Georgian building. It was put on in the 1880's, but of course it was severely damaged by the fire in June, the year before last. Today is the day that the top goes on the clock tower."

Restoration work will continue until October 2005. The clock face and mechanism will not be installed into the tower until the building is brought back into use. But what will the hotel be used for?

"The Council hasn't finally decided that." answers Nigel. "The Council's cabinet has had a recent discussion and has authorised us to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding - with a view to converting it to house the City Council's archives and local studies. But as things stand we're also looking at many other options and we'll be marketing the building in case that particular project doesn't come off."

"It's been a fascinating project to work on and very important for the whole Council - because I think it is one of the most visible signs of the regeneration of the city. It's a building that has a very high profile. It's well loved by a lot of people in Wolverhampton. Obviously, over the years, people have felt a lot of disappointment over its state, so this is really one of the best signs that Wolverhampton is regenerating itself".

CLICK THE LINK ON THE TOP RIGHT OF THIS PAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS OF THE MOLINEUX HOTEL RESTORATION >>

Hotel visit

Wolverhampton City Council's Regeneration and Environment division are organising a site visit to the Molineux Hotel on the 23rd and 25th of June 2005, as part of the city's Architecture Week (17-26 June).

Click the link on the top right of this page for more details >>

last updated: 26/05/05
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