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Twentieth Century Society in bid to stump Old Trafford cricket ground expansion

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The Twentieth Century Society (c20) is fighting to spotlist Trafford Town Hall in Manchester to prevent it being bulldozed by Lancashire County Cricket Club.

The cricket club, together with Trafford Council and developer Peel Holdings, has drawn up plans to demolish the town hall, designed by Bradshaw, Gass & Hope, and use the site to expand its Old Trafford ground.

But C20 caseworker Cordula Zeidler is confident the heritage lobby can stump the scheme by convincing English Heritage (EH) to award the town hall Grade II listing.

'We have sent the listing request to EH but do not expect a decision for at least a month,' said Zeidler.

'The building is remarkably intact, and both its exterior and interiors are coherent and original. It is a good and well-preserved example of the firm's municipal work and is architecturally as successful as, for example, the listed Burnley Town Hall.

'We believe the building ought to be added to the list for its architectural merit,' Zeidler added.

Trafford Town Hall was originally built for Stretford Borough Council between 1931 and 1933 as an imposing three-storey brick structure with a dominant central tower.

Pevsner described the building as: 'Large, symmetrical, of brick, with vaguely Adamish detail and a high central tower.'

While the main body of the building is Neo-Georgian, the entrance area is much more elaborate, with a stone portico and a double-height central window illuminating the grand central staircase inside.

Important spaces with original fittings include the council chamber, the central staircase with stained glass windows and bronze statues, and corridors with original door furniture and tiled floors.

Deputy council leader Matthew Colledge said neither C20 nor EH had made contact.

'All I can say at the moment is that we'll seek the guidance of our technical officers and reply if we receive a letter,' he added.

Bradshaw Gass & Hope was a prominent early-20th century architectural practice responsible for a host of commercial and municipal buildings, including Burnley Town Hall, Luton Town Hall and Wimbledon Town Hall - now converted to a branch of Tesco.

Zeidler says she is not averse to Trafford Town Hall being converted for alternative use, providing the fabric of the structure is preserved intact.

She said: 'Obviously the best use is as a town hall because there are some spaces, for example the council chamber, which would be difficult to use for anything other than council business.'

by Clive Walker

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