140 years ago Abel Heywood, the Lord Mayor of Manchester, was handed the keys to the brand spanking new Town Hall.
This Sunday, after a full open day when 3900 people will have had a last look around, the current Lord Mayor will lock the door and the building will be closed for 6 years. The keys will be handed to a project team responsible for a £350m refurbishment programme. It is a huge sum for the city council to borrow, but it is right to preserve the building for public use.
On Sunday the town hall bells will be rung for 75 minutes at the beginning and end of the day, and the organ will be played in the Great Hall. It would have been good to go.
Talking to a security man this afternoon, he explained that rumours have been doing the rounds of squatters trying to get in. There will be 24 hour security for the whole period of the works, including big dogs in the building. It will feel like Gormenghast.