River Ouse put to work as Growth Deal-funded project to restore York's historic Guildhall continues

Barges will be used to ship in materials for the restoration which received £2.3 million from the Leeds City Region Growth Deal

10 January 2020

York's famous river Ouse will be put to work as deliveries of infrastructure and materials make their way to the Guildhall as part of the £20 million restoration works. 

The project, which is being led by York Council, has received a £2.347 million investment from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), delivered in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of Government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

The landmark building will be brought back to life with modern offices, conference space and a cafe. It is expected to add a £117 million boost to the city's economy over five years once work has completed in 2021, creating an estimated 250 new jobs. 

Barges will deliver all the steelwork for the construction and the precast concrete floor slabs that would be near impossible to deliver by road to the city centre location. These initial deliveries will install the pontoons and begin the erection of the onsite tower crane, enabling regular deliveries to take place from the River.

The barges and pontoons carrying the materials replays the route taken by barges in the medieval period when the minster stone was brought to York by boat.  They will travel between Queen’s Staith and Guildhall, arriving near the historic entrance to the city known as Common Hall Lane; the original wharf through which stone for the minster was delivered before travelling up Stonegate to the site of the city’s landmark. 

Roger Marsh, Chairman of the LEP, said: “The Guildhall is one of York’s most fascinating historical buildings which was once at the heart of the city’s bustling business community.

“The ambitious restoration plans put forward will ensure the Guildhall is fit for modern-day business needs and allow it, once again, to be at the heart of enterprise by catering to the needs of those entrepreneurs and SMEs that are driving forward the local economy.

“This is yet another example of how the Combined Authority and the LEP are working together with our partner councils to ensure Growth Deal investment is targeted at the projects that will make a real difference to people living, working and studying in the Leeds City Region.”

Cllr Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Finance and Performance, City of York Council said: “This is a complex and sensitive restoration project and because of its city centre location, offers a rare and unique opportunity for residents and visitors to watch the Ouse at work, replicating how our architecture was developed during the 14th century.

“It’s wonderful to see the project progressing and our ambitious plans for the future of the site taking shape.”

An artist's impression of York GuildhallCllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and strategic Planning, City of York Council, and member of the West Yorkshire and York Investment Committee said:  “The Guildhall restoration is an innovative solution to attracting decent jobs and improving our city centre economy, by meeting the needs of businesses for more quality office space in the heart of our city.

“It’s great to see the work underway and to give passers-by a rare glimpse of innovative construction amidst our historic city centre.”

Chris Winspear, Regional Director at VINCI Construction UK, said: "The Guildhall’s location limits the ability to directly access the complex by road, meaning we’ve had to explore alternative means of bringing the materials and equipment to site. The River Ouse provides the perfect solution to the challenge of transporting the large, bulky resources that we need to deliver our work to repair and rejuvenate the Guildhall.

“A high level of consideration and coordination goes into delivering a project of this scale and importance, and our team are privileged to be playing our part in returning this impressive building it to its former glory.”  

Waterway and wellbeing charity, Canal & River Trust are the navigation authority for the River Ouse.  The Trust is supporting the project by enabling VINCI to use the waterway to make site deliveries, helping to limit the disruption to residents and visitors in York city centre.