IT’S HARD to believe that it’s now almost a year since we confirmed the opening date for the newly-restored Old Town Hall.
It had been the most-keenly anticipated civic development for generations and the sense of joy when the doors opened on October 21 last year – with a grand public event showcasing the Oldham Giant, acrobats, musicians and local talent – was something I’ll never forget.
Since then the development has grabbed so many accolades that we realised there was one very clear flaw in our original designs – the lack of a trophy cabinet.
To date in 2017 the Old Town Hall has won nine awards from a range of prestigious players who know a thing or two about buildings, including the Royal Chartered Institute of Surveyors and the Royal Institute of British Architects.
It’s also been shortlisted for the British Construction Industry Awards ‘Building Project of the Year’, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce ‘Building of the Year’ and the Local Authority Building Control Awards which are all taking place later this year.
I’m not the kind of person who would ever obsess about chasing ‘gongs’ but this impressive haul of awards and nominations shows that we must have got something right.
The renovation of the Old Town Hall wasn’t just about the rebirth of a unique and iconic building, important though that was. It was part of our bigger vision to give the town centre a new focal point and a place where people from all communities – and new visitors – could enjoy leisure time in a pleasant and modern environment.
That’s why we built Parliament Square adjacent to it providing a high-quality public space that we also knew would be an exciting new events space of the calibre and size that Oldham has never had before.
It has already hosted some fantastic events to date – like Illuminate and Oldham Pride – and is fast growing in its popularity as a destination in its own right but we were also acutely aware of a gap in Oldham’s entertainment offer which simply had to be addressed.
As a place we have got some fantastic local live music venues and events but – certainly before the recent Cotton Clouds Festival in Greenfield – you usually had to at least hop on a tram to Manchester to be entertained by established acts.
That is all set to change in nine days when Parliament Square hosts OldhamLIVE on Saturday September 9.
We’ve worked alongside Revolution96.2 on these plans and it was clear from our very first meeting that we had a shared ambition to deliver something really special.
The musical line-up includes headliners The Farm, Stooshe, Kelly Llorena, a Clint Boon DJ set and Nathan from Brother Beyond. If you’ve not yet seen the event details – which includes pirate themed fun for the kids in the afternoon – then visit www.oldham.gov.uk/oldhamlive for full details.
In the coming days I can reveal that we’ll be adding a couple more exciting names to that bill, and releasing a detailed site map with all the essential information you’ll need to plan ahead for a great day out.
This is a pilot event and we are keen to gauge the public appetite for this type of offering. It’s also the first time we’ve used Parliament Square for something quite so big and a great team of Oldham Council volunteers will be there working hard to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Best of all, the event is entirely free and – if it’s a success – we have some exciting ideas for what we might do next with OldhamLIVE.
So what’s ‘your bit’? All we ask is that you come along, enjoy yourselves, help to spread the word and also give our local economy a real boost. .
Please don’t miss the chance to enjoy some fantastic acts and entertainment. The only thing I cannot guarantee is the weather, so fingers crossed!