The Town Hall is a Grade 1 listed building, designed and constructed by local architects, the Bastard Brothers, as part of the reconstruction of Blandford Forum after the town was virtually destroyed by the Great Fire of 1731. Built in 1734, of Portland stone, and featuring a classical Palladian façade, the Town Hall is considered by many to be the jewel of Blandford Forum’s market place and a building of exceptional architectural interest. Eagle-eyed passersbys will notice the high level ornate plasterwork that adorns the building and the fossils embedded within the Portland stone.
Williams Lester has worked with Blandford Town Council for over 13 years and was delighted to undertake such an important restoration project. The regeneration was urgently needed as the façade was beginning to endanger pedestrians, with parts of the stone and plasterwork coming loose.
Williams Lester facilitated all aspects of the renovation, from tendering and appointing highly respected specialists, Sally Strachey Historic Conservation, to liaising with the conservation officer, supervising and inspecting the site.
The extensive restoration work included the cleaning the façade, lifting grime and corrosive sulphation (caused by the centuries of pollution) using the ThermaTech system – a combination of carefully controlled pressure and steam. Great care was taken to ensure the patina of the façade was maintained, keeping the Town Hall’s character intact. The façade’s defective mortar joints were carefully colour-matched and re-pointed, and damaged roof tiles replaced.
The work also included the replacement of much of the lead work. Layers of crudely applied paintwork were removed from the ornate cornice, and the plasterwork repaired prior to repainting – restoring the original crisp detailing and profiles. Where stonework was deemed to be beyond repair it was replaced with pre-weathered pieces, carefully cut in to blend as harmoniously as possible with the facade. The black and gilded tin clock, set high within the pediment was cleaned and repainted and now gleams as the sunlight catches its golden numerals. At ground level, the heavy wrought iron gates which had settled and vandalised have been removed, straightened, re-painted and re-hung on strengthened pintels within the stone arches. Finally, the elegant lanterns that adorned the arches of the Shambles, which had corroded beyond repair, have been faithfully re-constructed and also will soon be reinstated.
When you have been involved with a high profile, heritage site such as this for a long time, you develop a personal connection to the building. Blandford Forum Town Hall is a stunning and significant example of Georgian architecture; it’s the focal point of the town’s famous market place. Its gives us enormous personal satisfaction to see this façade in its restored state – and we are very proud to be part of the team that has put it back into good heart for the next century.