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26 May


Gorton Monastery, Manchester

May 26, 2017 | By |

Hirst Conservation has now completed a major conservation project at Gorton Monastery in Manchester. The works started in March 2016, for HH Smith and Son and project architect Alan Gardner, as part of a larger project ‘Sharing the Story – Welcome Wing’, and included repairs and conservation to the historic fabric of the Sanctuary and Lady Chapel. Over twenty conservators worked on site and at the Hirst workshops, to bring the ‘romantic ruin’ back to life.

Our primary aim was to clean and stabilise the fragile substrates and several overlying schemes of stencilled and gilded decoration, by adopting the minimum intervention approach. Restoration was introduced only for the reasons of public health and safety, mainly through replacement of missing and unstable Victorian floor tiles. The project was completed in April 2017 by coating the external brick link wall with colour-matched limewash, to complement brickwork of the newly opened Welcome Wing.

We have been involved in several educational activities, by hosting events and presentations for various audiences, and providing a summer placement for two Northumbria University students. Long-term displays are also planned to educate the public on the meaning of sections of the historic stencilled schemes, uncovered as part of our project.

The Roman Catholic Church of St Francis was designed for the Franciscans in 1862 by Edward Welby Pugin, to serve the impoverished local community of Irish and Italian immigrant workers and their families. Construction works of the church and friary took ten years, but the completed parts of the building were open for use much earlier. The church soon became a lively hub, also actively involved in education by provision of schools for children and infants. The decline started after the 1970’s recession, demolition of local terraced housing and dispersion of the local community. The last Franciscans had to abandon the church in 1989, and, following some unfortunate investments, it was left unprotected from theft and vandalism. The Monastery of St. Francis and Gorton Trust was formed in 1996 to ensure a future for the site, and secured funding for subsequent campaigns of repair and restoration work.

The Monastery is currently a busy events centre hosting conferences and meetings, as well as wedding receptions, concerts and community celebrations.

For more information on this unique place go to

Access for Condition Survey

Stainless steel prop for structural support

Laying custom made tiles

Uncovering successive earlier schemes in the Lady Chapel

Continuing Professional Development for Heritage Professionals

Earlier schemes uncovered within the Sanctuary

Consolidating lifting paint layers

During Cleaning of marouflage painting