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Procure Partnerships Framework Supports ‘OMA’ to Extend Oldham’s Cultural Quarter

As part of the wider redevelopment of the Cultural Quarter for Oldham Council, our contractor partner Interserve is remodelling the Grade II Listed former Oldham Free Library to create a new Oldham Museum and Arts/ Archive building or ‘OMA’ as it will be named.

The former library is situated between Union Street, Southgate Street and Ashworth Street in Oldham Town Centre and adjacent to the existing Gallery Oldham which will be included in part in some refurbishment works as well as landscaping works. 

The project will extend Oldham’s cultural quarter and bring together a community arts development, the Oldham Theatre Workshop, an art gallery, multiple heritage collections, and  provide space for local studies in a single linked complex involving the conversion of a much loved but currently empty Victorian library (originally opened in 1883) linked to Gallery Oldham (completed in 2002) and public space in the Library Gardens.

The new centre will house improved educational facilities – including volunteering and training, outreach and engagement programmes. An important part of the restoration work will see the former lecture hall in the venue becoming a performance studio space for use by partners like Oldham Theatre Workshop.

It will showcase the story of Oldham’s past from its time as the cotton spinning capital of the world to the present day with gallery spaces, archives, public research rooms, bars and meeting spaces. In line with public feedback, the venue will enable more of the borough’s collection of objects and works of art to be on display – and increase public access to heritage assets including the museum and archive collections.

Jean Stretton, Oldham Council Leader commented on the scheme:

“This is a real achievement for Oldham – we are absolutely delighted to have completed this funding package with our partners. We’re extremely proud of our history and heritage here and it is vital that is a key part of the regeneration of Oldham so that we can protect it for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. The HLF have been crucial players in this project and have offered not just invaluable funding but expert advice and guidance. Their input has been essential, and they have truly shared our vision for this scheme.”

The grade-II listed former library building on Union Street will undergo vital restoration work. The project will be delivered 18 months. The scope of works involves partial internal demolition and complete restoration of internal finishes and making good to the structure in localised areas. Heritage finishing and fittings will be used to restore the library back to its former glory. Interserve is working with the client’s (Oldham Council) exhibitors to manage and coordinate installation of collections.

In order to understand the condition of the building, Interserve has been working with Oldham Council and their team to undertake multiple condition surveys internally and externally. This has enabled Interserve to better understand the risks and mitigation required to manage the works within a fixed budget.

Phil Shaw, Divisional Director, Interserve Construction added: “As Oldham Council’s delivery partner, Interserve will deliver quantifiable, measurable, real world initiatives that benefit the people of Oldham – because preserving heritage must go hand-in-hand with improving the present.”

Working closely with Ellis Williams Architects, Interserve and Oldham Council have developed a construction design and methodology that mitigates against any impact upon the existing building whilst Interserve carry out the new fit-out was crucial at the start of this project. In conjunction with the design team, Interserve’s in-house temporary works designers and the specialisms of Interserve sister company RMD Quickform they have developed a temporary works solution that minimises any distress to the structure.

Phil Osborne, Key Account Manager at Procure Partnerships Framework added: “OMA allows our contractor partner Interserve to exhibit the considerable expertise to revitalise an historic Oldham landmark and provide a host of services that can have a tangible impact on the community, we’re proud to be working on the scheme and look forward to seeing it in use”