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Cllr Amanda Chadderton at the Old Library Published: Wednesday, 20th July 2022

The transformation of Oldham’s Old Library continues, with Oldham Council’s Cabinet due to approve the next phase of works to bring it back to life. 

Works to prevent further deterioration and prepare the building for redevelopment began in December 2021. 

The careful restoration is ongoing and includes replacing the roof - using the original tiles as much as possible - cleaning the stone to bring it back to its former glory and preserving historical features, many of which have been rediscovered during the works. 

Councillors will now discuss plans for the next phase of works, which will set out how the building will be used by Oldhamers in the future. 

Oldham Council Leader Amanda Chadderton said: “The Old Library is a much-loved building, and many residents have fond memories of visiting it with their families over the years. 

“We have always been committed to re-opening it for public use and the current works are well on their way to making that happen. 

“As part of the Big Oldham Conversation consultation, we asked residents how they would like to use the building in the future and received some great responses including community use, an extension of Gallery Oldham and a place that celebrates Oldham’s heritage and history. 

“We’ve taken all this into account and have worked up plans to incorporate your feedback and ideas.” 

Old Library staircase


The Old Library is set out over a number of floors, and as part of its redevelopment, the whole building will be made accessible to all users. 

We want to use ground floors to create public, community space and meeting rooms.  

There will also be improved space for community groups to use for arts, culture and performance, and who need more space to deliver their activities and services. This includes our fantastic Oldham Theatre Workshop, who will be given a new home in the Old Library, as their current building will be redeveloped as part of our plans for a new theatre and performance space. 

The upper floor connects to Gallery Oldham via a link bridge, so we would like to use some of this area as additional gallery and exhibition space. 

We also plan to create a new civic space for public meetings and functions upstairs, including a new council chamber, mayoral chamber and space for support staff. This will support our plans to free up the Civic Centre for future redevelopment, including relocating council staff to within the redeveloped Spindles and council buildings across the borough. 

We also plan to celebrate the Old Library's heritage by displaying civic artefacts and silverware which dates back hundreds of years. Many of these items are currently housed in cabinets in the Civic Centre, so displaying them in the Old Library will make them more accessible to visitors. 

At its meeting on Monday 25 July, Cabinet is recommended to proceed to the next stage of project development, which will enable a full business case to be submitted ahead of works starting on site.  

This will allow the Old Library’s refurbishment to continue at pace with full completion in 2024. 

The Old Library will be a key part of Oldham’s Cultural Quarter, which includes Gallery Oldham, Oldham Library and a new theatre and performance space. 

The theatre will be developed in adjacent heritage buildings on Union Street/Greaves Street. These are the Old Post Office - currently home to Oldham Local Studies and Archives - which will relocate to within Spindles where we are creating a brand-new public archive, and the former Quaker Meeting House - currently home to Oldham Theatre Workshop. When complete, the theatre will provide a new home for Oldham Coliseum. 

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