This project neatly bookends WMF Britain’s life, as it was effectively the first project we took on. In April 2007, HRH Prince of Wales inaugurated the Small Concert Room. His original request for assistance for St Georges Hall in 1990 had been honoured.
Sometimes a relatively small grant can create a knock on effect, and this was very true with our role at St. George’s, Liverpool. The award of a $500,000 grant in 2000 from the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage enabled us to seek matching sums from UK organisations and many stepped up to the plate. This in turn encouraged large amounts for the restoration of other parts of the building. We were also given a seat on the board of the St Georges Hall Charitable Trust in recognition of the role we could play in the development of this project.
Upgrading the Small Concert Room
Despite its intimate atmosphere, significant history and ideal acoustics, the Small Concert Room had seen little use in the twenty years prior to restoration. This was partly due to its poor condition, but also the lack of adequate means of escape, access and modern facilities. New style seating, new audio-visual cabling, air conditioning, a disabled access ramp, lift and toilets were among the additions and alterations were made to comply with the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act).
The right scheme
The second part of the project involved painstaking analysis of the historical paint scheme, which was carried out in 2002. Once the original cream and gold decorative scheme had been determined, WMF Britain felt strongly that it was necessary to remove the blue over-painting and the reinstatement began in November 2005.
The pièce de résistance of the project was the restoration of the magnificent, chandelier created by Osler of Birmingham. Weighing more than 750kg and consisting of 2,824 crystal pieces, it was in poor condition prior to restoration and had been crudely converted to electrical power. It was meticulously dismantled, transported to London and restored in the workshop of Wilkinson’s Plc. Swarovski Crystal generously paid for the work after we bought the project to their attention.