NINE historic sculptures above the entrance of Bolton Town Hall are to be repaired and cleaned in a ‘once in a generation’ project at the listed building.

A planning application submitted by Bolton Council offers a fascinating insight into the history of the building, which was built between 1866 and 1873.

The pediment sculpture group above the main entrance to the town hall is described as ‘an important work’ by the sculptor William Calder Marshall symbolising the commerce and manufacturing underpinning Bolton’s wealth at the time of its construction.

The Bolton News: The pediment sculpture group above the main entrance to the town hall is described as 'an important work' by the sculptor William Calder Marshall

Work is need to be done to the pediment as parts of it are described as being at risk of ‘potential collapse’ if fractures and corrosion are left unchecked.

However, the sculpture group itself was found to be in reasonably good condition but very dirty, with some localised stone weathering.

Proposals have now been put to the council for a programme of cleaning and stone conservation work and structural repairs to the pediment.

In May this year, David Carrington, from Skillington Workshops prepared a report about the sculpture group to the council.

He said: “The pediment sculptures are made from Portland limestone.

“Marshall himself said the central figure represents Bolton, with a mural crown, holding a shield on which is the borough coat of arms.

“The figures to the right and left represent ‘manufacture’ and commerce’.

Other elements of the sculpture include ‘wheat’, ‘earth’, ‘child with a basket of cotton’, ‘boy holding a boat by the bow’, ‘ocean’ and ‘fish’.

The Bolton News: The sculpture group adorns the front of the building

Mr Carrington said comparable other sculpture groups to those in Bolton could be found at The British Museum, the former Provincial Bank, Dublin and Todmorden Town Hall.

The planning application brought forward by Bolton Council on the structural repairs needed gives more insight into the risks to the structure if left unattended.

It states: “The repairs to the adjacent cornice is to prevent a potential collapse of the cantilevered south side of the raking cornice if the

fractures and corrosion are left unchecked.

“The proposals have been prepared by a registered structural engineer with extensive experience of working on listed buildings and monuments.

“The proposals will not leave any noticeable scars or damage.”

The sculpture cleaning will be done using a superheated steam cleaner and hand tools will be used to fill in small sections of worn out mortar.

The work is expected to take around 10 days to complete.

A huge section of scaffolding already currently covers the front of the town hall as part of a wider project of refurbishment and that structure will enable the work to be done more easily.