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By Kate Campbell-Payne on

Power Hall update: Full steam ahead

If you are coming to visit us over the next few months, you’re going to notice a lot of changes around the site and especially around the Power Hall building. Our second update looks at another milestone for the restoration of this iconic gallery.

External view of Power Hall

Another big job has started on the Power Hall and it’s something everyone who visits can’t fail to see. Starting this week, 1,220 metres of specialist alloy beams, 160,000 metres of scaffolding tubes and 9,000 square metres of sheeting has started to be put up over the Power Hall. To give you an idea of just how much that is, laid end to end it would stretch from here to the National Railway Museum in York and back again, the total weight is 275 Stephenson’s Rockets or 500 elephants ,and it will take over 18,500 working hours to erect.

As many of you will know by now, the Power Hall is shut for an extensive renovation that will take until 2021. Our Director, Sally MacDonald outlined the work and the investment in future for the hall here back in July. Last month we gave you a sneak peek at the work going on inside to protect the historic engines, which actually caused a shortage of green plastic tarpaulin in the North of England! Take a look at the update here and you’ll see why.

The Power Hall is very close to a lot of our visitors’ hearts. Built in 1855 as the shipping shed for Liverpool Road Station, it houses Europe’s largest collection of working stationary steam engines, the majority of which were built here in Manchester and the North West. But more than that, visiting the Power Hall has always been a unique experience that has captivated visitors for over 30 years. That’s why we’re so excited for its future.

As Sally MacDonald says:

“This multi-sensory gallery, full of the sounds of machines, the whistle and smell of steam and incredible personal stories will show how Manchester provided the power that changed the city and the world—from the way we work to the consumer society we live in. In revealing more about the human skill and ingenuity of the past we can’t wait to inspire the engineers and innovators of the future.”

All this will mean a lot of changes on site and how visitors get around. To keep up to date with these changes please check the website, keep an eye on our We Are Changing page, or ask staff for details when you arrive. The Power Hall isn’t the only major site project we’re working on right now. Building our brand new Special Exhibitions Gallery and more restoration work on our other buildings will also affect how you get around during your visit so, even if you’re a regular, watch out for extra signage and ask if you’re not sure. The museum will be open throughout the works and there’s still plenty to see and do.

The beginnings of this work coincide with our 50th birthday this October. It’s the perfect time to look at the future of the museum while reflecting on our past. If you’d like to contribute a story about how the Science and Industry Museum has changed or influenced your life or just send us a happy birthday message, please email us at happybirthday@scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk.

We’ll continue to give you more updates on the Power Hall and the rest of the work going on around the site both here on the blog and on our social media channels. We really hope you’ll join us on this journey and enjoy seeing the progress as we get ready for our next 50 years.

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