Ashton Memorial (photo credit: Michael Shepherd)
The Ashton Memorial was commissioned by Lord Ashton as a tribute to his late wife. It was designed by John Belcher and completed in 1909, the restored interior hosts exhibitions and concerts and can be hired for private functions, including wedding ceremonies.
Externally, the dome is of copper. The main stone used in the building is Portland stone although the steps are of granite from Cornwall. Externally around the dome are sculptures representing "Commerce", "Science", "Industry" and "Art" by Herbert Hampton. The interior of the dome has allegorical paintings of "Commerce", "Art" and "History" by George Murray. The ceiling is presently undergoing restorative works and has been covered with drapes.
The drapes in the Ashton Memorial
At around 150 feet tall it dominates the Lancaster skyline. The first floor outdoor viewing gallery provides superb views of the surrounding countryside and across Morecambe Bay.
2015 will see further investment to the Ashton Memorial which will include repair and replacement of original doors on all balcony levels, internal and external decoration and repairs to the 2 internal domes and external masonry works to make the building water tight. All of this will be an investment of approximately £530,000.
The Irish Yew trees have been removed from around the steps of the Ashton Memorial and replaced with new trees. This project was one of the major projects highlighted in the 2013 Landscape and Woodland Management Plan. The new trees have improved the appearance of the Ashton Memorial, and have restored views from the Memorial over Lancaster and Morecambe Bay.
Specialist restoration work to the steps at the front of the Ashton Memorial was completed in 2013.
The steps were closed for over a year due to the condition of the foundations and support structures below ground, which has made the steps unsafe for use by members of the public.
It has been a major restoration project and beganwith the huge task of removing the fragile granite steps and making repairs to the areas of damaged stone. A new supporting structure to the lower staircase has been constructed in reinforced concrete and steel, the repaired granite steps replaced and the masonry joints re-pointed.
The failure of the supporting structure to the granite steps was partly due to the original construction specification typical of the time. This comprised of rolled steel joists and coke breeze concrete. This type of concrete does not provide full corrosion protection of the steel.
Water ingress through the masonry joints in the steps has allowed rain water ingress into the supporting structure, damaging the concrete and causing corrosion of the steel beams.
Manager of Williamson Park, Will Griffith, said: "Williamson Park remains one of Lancashire's most popular attractions. This Grade I listed building is now more than 100 years old and like any building of its age needs careful maintenance. Specialist restoration work is vital to ensuring that this magnificent building continues to serve our local communities and attracts visitors to the district for another 100 years."
Lancaster City Council funded the £183,000 reconstruction using local construction company, Colin Briscoe Construction Limited, and specialist stone masons.
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