Lyndon SGB and Taylor’s Hoists are proud to have been chosen as the external scaffolding and hoists contractors for the £300 million refurbishment and partial restoration of the Grade 1-listed Manchester Town Hall by main contractor Lendlease – one of the largest construction sites in Europe and currently the UK’s biggest single scaffolding contract. 

The Lyndon SGB scaffolding and hoists from Taylor’s Hoists are in situ to give access to all elevations on the #OurTownHall renovation from December 2019 to December 2023 – allowing Lendlease contractors to access 34 chimneys, the three main towers (the main Albert Square clock tower, Cooper St tower and Princess St spire) and the rest of the structure requiring renovation works.

Vast temporary roofs covering all existing roofs are also being provided – making up more than 10,000m2 of weather protection. And there are hundreds of access platforms totalling 22,000m2 and multiple combined scaffold staircases totalling 450m in height – enough to reach the top of the Empire State building (448.7m)!

The highly complex scaffolding works have been designed in-house using resources from across the BrandSafway group. Four design engineers; one UK based, one in Australia and two in Holland worked together to design the intricate solutions – with the temporary roof and complex sections being designed in 3D.

The scaffolding erection is being carried out by more than 50 Lyndon SGB scaffolders, working on more than 200 scaffold structures – independents, birdcages, beam sections, staircases, chimney scaffolds, and temporary roofing – with a total weight of approximately 3700T.

There is a full perimeter independent access scaffold that is two bays wide from the building face; with the inner bay forming the working platform and the outer bay used as a buttress/braced bay, where all the vertical ledger bracing is fitted to allow the inner working bay to be braceless – offering unrestricted access for all trades to work safely.

Additionally, there are three courtyards to the inner grounds of the iconic town hall – all with birdcage scaffolds giving access to all elevations and a fully decked top platform at 25m high. These courtyard scaffolds fill an area of approximately 19,500 cubic meters. 

Meanwhile, towering over Albert Square, our scaffolding for the main clock tower is up to a height of 87m and will feature 40 scaffold lifts, when completed. 

Fifteen of these clock tower lifts are supported from a complex beam arrangement to the perimeter spanning over the roof of the main building. These in turn are supported by heavy-duty towers to the four corners – each supporting a load of approximately 300kN.

To minimise working at height and manual handling, the beam sections to each elevation were all built on the ground and craned into position – each section made up of eight lines of beams spanning 15m and weighing 4T.

And to minimise wind loading on the building, the access scaffold to the clock tower spire will be built to the profile of the spire, which is an octagonal cone, 20m high on the top of the clock tower. This is a very complex scaffold to build – requiring some of our most experienced scaffolders to complete and expert design engineers to calculate. 

Additionally, the complex triangular shape and profile of this historically important building along with many of its fine architectural features (statues, gargoyles and ornate stonework) have made the design and erection of the scaffold a challenge and great responsibility.

Lyndon SGB Managing Director, Stuart Robinson said: “On joining Lyndon SGB last Summer, this was the first project I visited to meet the branch teams. To see the progress since then, both for Lyndon SGB and Taylor’s Hoists, along with everyone else involved in the OTH project is incredible – especially given the COVID restrictions over the past 18 months. 

“This huge project is a true testament to the desire and commitment of all those involved in OTH across all our organisations. It’s been a real team effort to get this far and it’s very easy for me to say that we are all hugely proud to be part of this epic project.”

Lyndon SGB Regional Manager, Jon Cooke added: “The Town Hall complex is one of Manchester’s greatest cultural and civic assets, which makes a significant contribution not only to the heritage but also to the identity of the city and the people of Manchester. It is a contract that not only are we passionate about, but are elated to be associated with – a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Paul Candelent, Project Director, Our Town Hall added: “One of the biggest challenges faced by the OTH project team has been to get comprehensive safe access to all of the work faces on the building, and to do so in a way that respects and protects the precious and sensitive architectural detailing of the building. The innovative way in which the team has approached this challenge has been really impressive, and the scaffold and hoist solution for OTH is a testament to a great team working truly collaboratively.”

Taylor’s Hoists have provided nine out of the 10 hoists required on this landmark project, working closely with Lyndon SGB’s scaffold team to provide a unique solution – where no external hoists are physically tied to the structure by penetration of any fixings. 

The twin combination hoist is actually clamped around the Grade 1-listed Gothic clock tower, which was a concept and design that was developed between Lendlease and Taylor’s Hoists and is just one example of the partnership that has been developed on this project. 

Altogether, for the hoists currently on site there are more than 100 landings being served by the hoists and a total of 244m of mast sections. All the hoists are manufactured by Alimak, who also assisted with the design and making the unique access proposal possible.

Taylor’s Hoist Managing Director, Paul Price said: “In 25+ years within the hoist industry, I have never before worked on a project with multiple hoists that have not been physically tied to the structure, and it is to the credit of the Taylor’s Hoists team, Lyndon SGB and Lendlease that the solution became a reality. It has been a truly educational experience which has been a journey, and we are privileged to have worked together with the Lendlease team.”