With a contractor now in place, £1.4m of repairs will be carried out to the Gamble Institute in Victoria Square which has been closed to the public since 2017 due to structural issues caused by water damage making the lower levels of the building unsafe.
The contract – awarded to HH Smith & Sons Co Ltd – will include all repairs and where necessary renewal of the external fabric of the building, including the roof, roof light, chimneys, rainwater goods (gutters), pointing, and windows.
Welcoming the announcement, St Helens Borough Council Leader David Baines said:
“The Gamble is a beautiful landmark that means a lot to the people of the St Helens – so to have confirmation that work is finally about to start is great news which I’m sure will be welcomed right across the borough.
“With its 125th anniversary taking place this year, there’s no better time to start work so that future generations will be able to enjoy it as its intended purpose for years to come.”
Councillor Richard McCauley, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning said:
“In our Borough Strategy, released earlier this year, we have made a clear commitment to retaining our historic buildings, safeguarding their future public use as part of our emerging town centre regeneration plans. The Gamble will be a key part of this.”
Erected in 1896, the Gamble Institute – a gift to the people of St Helens by the first Mayor of St Helens, Sir David Gamble – began life as a library and technical school.
In February 2020, the council consulted on what the public and community groups would like to see the Gamble used for in the future, with an overriding desire for a library to return to the building once more. Specific details of the project and future use are currently being explored.
Work to restore the Gamble will begin early October and is expected to take around 26-weeks to complete.