11 July 2021

The new wing of a 19th Century Grade II* listed monastery has been topped by 9,000 roofing slates from Welsh Slate, part of the Lagan group.

The 500mm by 300mm Penrhyn Heather Blue County-grade slates have been used on a £3 million new “Welcome Wing” extension to Gorton Monastery in Manchester which was rescued from neglect just 21 years ago.

The Welsh slates were specified by ecological architects Eco Arc to perfectly match those on the existing monastery designed by Edward Pugin, a leading architect of his day and son of Augustus Pugin, the architect for the Houses of Parliament.

The 6,650ft2 wing, on the site of an original building which was demolished in the 1960s, comprises a new reception area, space for functions, exhibition materials and a community space with dedicated education room as well as health and well-being facilities over up to three storeys.

The Welsh slates were installed for main contractor HH Smith & Sons on roof pitches of 55˚ and 24˚ with variable head lap.

The new wing has allowed the Monastery of St Francis and Gorton Trust, which operates the heritage asset as an award-winning function venue, to expand and extend its facilities and projects for the local community and general visitors.

Elaine Griffiths, the trust’s chief executive, said:

“This has been the biggest investment we have made in the building since we completed the major £6.5 million restoration work to save the monastery 10 years ago and it’s wonderful to see it finished. For the first time we’re able to realise our long-held ambition to hold an open day for everyone.”

Franciscan monks left the site in 1989 and after a failed attempt by a developer to convert the buildings into apartments they were finally handed over to the trust in 1996 after seven years of neglect.

Both phases of restoration and development have been managed by specialist project manager Buro Four.

The monastery is widely regarded as Manchester’s most unique and inspiring events venue. It can accommodate up to 450 people and is ideal for events from product launches and corporate celebrations to weddings and large social occasions. For smaller occasions, the Private Chapel can hold up to 50 people.

Alongside the new build, the trust will continue the work begun in 2005 to restore and conserve important artefacts and features within the Great Nave, including areas around the altar and reredos, the Lady Altar, and original paint and stencil schemes, floor tiles and stone carvings.


Andrew Yeats, of frequent Welsh Slate specifiers Eco Arc, said:

“The Welsh slates were very key in tying the new build and existing listed building together, and having a natural, UK-based product was important from a sustainability aspect.”

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