A leaking roof and dry rot are putting Grade II-listed neo-classical Wellington Rooms at severe risk of crumbling and a project to secure the future of the 202-year-old building has begun. Tony McDonough reports
Urgent repairs are being undertaken on Liverpool’s former Irish Centre amid alarming decay at the Grade II-listed 202-year-old building.
The neo-classical Wellington Rooms are near to the top of Mount Pleasant and close to the city’s Catholic cathedral. It was originally used for high society balls and latterly the Irish Centre.
However, it has been closed since 1997 and is suffering from a leaking roof and dry rot and the urgent repairs, starting on Monday, February 12, are being jointly funded by Liverpool City Council and Historic England.
The Wellington Rooms also lie within Liverpool’s £2bn Knowledge Quarter and is recognised as by the council and Historic England as Liverpool’s top priority heritage building at risk.
Plans were initially approved for the Wellington Rooms to become a function suite in 2002 but were never implemented. An application for it to become a hotel in 2006 and 2007 were rejected because of the detrimental impact of a three-storey extension, and throughout this period the building was deteriorating.
The contract to carry out these urgent repairs and secure this important heritage asset has been awarded to Quadriga, which are one of the leading UK specialists in the conservation, restoration and structural repair of historic buildings.
It has previously worked on the British Museum, the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden and the Royal Liver Building.
While the repairs take place Merseyside Building Preservation Trust is also carrying out a consultation on the results of an options appraisal of the building and, in partnership with the council with a view to seeking a development partner by the summer.
Deputy Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Ann O’Byrne, said: “The Wellington Rooms are right at the top of our priority list for action. It has an amazing history and is hugely important to the people of Liverpool.
“These urgent repairs are the start of a long journey to return it back to its former glory, but we are now starting to make progress in working with partners to identify a deliverable a sustainable end use.”