Work praised as Guildhall's old glory is restored
CRAFTSMEN'S "outstanding" restoration of a section of Swansea's Guildhall have been praised.
Up to 60 stonemasons, timber floor specialists, furniture restorers, plus plumbers and electricians, have been busy on the £5.5 million revamp of the Lord Mayor's parlour, council chamber, committee rooms, George Hall and offices.
At their formal reopening, Swansea Council leader David Phillips said he believed the Guildhall was one of the finest grade one-listed buildings in Wales.
Its listed status, he said, included internal fittings and has made restoration "extremely complex and challenging".
Mr Phillips said: "I think you will agree the building looks magnificent, and we will all want to thank the workmen and tradesmen who have done an outstanding job. "I know many of them really enjoyed working on the project," he added.
"I want to thank them for their great pride in their job."
The recently completed work is the fourth and penultimate phase of a £25 restoration of the Guildhall, which has hosted the likes of US president Jimmy Carter and Joan Collins and is 80 years old next year.
The Brangwyn Hall is the focus of the final restoration phase, which should be completed next summer.
Among those present on Tuesday evening was former Lord Mayor of Swansea Charlie Thomas, who recalled the crowds which gathered to see the Duke of Kent at the official opening 79 years ago.
Oystermouth councillor Tony Colburn said he remembered sitting quietly in a committee room while his grandfather conducted business in his role as Swansea Borough Council estate agent.
"It was over 70 years ago — I was parked in the corner," he revealed.
Rob David, the council's strategic project manager, said the phase four work took 14 months and had come in under budget. Everything had to be cleared beforehand by Welsh heritage body Cadw.
Craftsmen in areas including cabinet making and travertine flooring were called in, with only the lighting specialists coming from outside Wales.
Mr David said he reckoned it was money well spent, arguing that the Guildhall was the most important building in Swansea. Now, he said, it was being preserved for future generations.
The decision to restore it was taken some seven years ago by the Liberal Democrat-led coalition in Swansea.
"We only had one chance of doing this," said Mr David.