The stunning paving forms the centrepiece of the square, which is being redeveloped as part of the wider restoration of Rochdale Town Hall, to create a world class public realm and events space in the heart of Rochdale town centre.
Central to the piece are 5 paving stones etched with intricate designs, created by local artist, Vic Whitaker, known as Doodlher.
Vic carried out extensive research and worked with local community groups and volunteers to create the designs, which are centred on the 5 key themes of Industry and Craftsmanship, World Connections, A Great Hall, A Working Town Hall and The Future.
The designs feature many of the symbols and motifs featured throughout the building and tell the story of Rochdale and its history, including cotton plants, sheep and the Lancashire Rose.
The carpet of paving stretches from the grade I listed war memorial and memorial gardens to the town hall entrance and will be framed by lawned areas and trees. As well as creating a stunning outdoor space for relaxation and events, the redevelopment of the square will complement the town hall, which is currently undergoing an extensive restoration funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the council.
New trees have also been installed in the square, alongside new benches featuring designs inspired by textile patterns from around the world.
Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for equity, safety and reform, said:
“This beautiful piece of artwork doesn’t just look stunning, it tells the story of Rochdale’s past and its future and I think it’s spectacular. This project is about giving the town hall back to the people of Rochdale and helping them feel a connection to this incredible place, which belongs to us all. That’s why I love the way that Vic, with the help of volunteers and the community, has brought the features which we see inside the building right out onto the square, to make it more accessible than ever before.
“We hope that it will encourage our residents and visitors to want to see what’s behind the door and explore this incredible building for themselves once it reopens next year.”
Vic Whitaker said:
“The town hall has always been really important to me. It’s beautiful, inside and out, and as an illustrator it’s always fascinated me. So when I was asked to get involved in this project, I jumped at the chance.
“I worked with community groups and volunteers to explore their memories of the town hall and what it means to them. I supplemented their insights with research into the symbols and motifs then combined everything together to construct the 5 designs.
“Exploring the town hall and untangling the secrets of its interior decor has been a real adventure into its history and design. I hope that my artwork encourages others to step inside and hunt down the imagery that inspired the artwork.”
The project to restore Rochdale Town Hall and Town Hall Square is being delivered by Rochdale Development Agency on behalf of the council.
The square is expected to open in phases from October 2023 and the town hall is expected to reopen in early 2024.