EXPERT craftsmen have been repairing stonework and windows at the Guildhall, the medieval ancient seat of local government in York.

A team from York-based Pinnacle Construction have also repaired the heraldic griffins which occupy the four corners of the Guildhall’s roof tower facing the River Ouse.

They were able to remove the upper part of the statues, which were then taken away by barge to Pinnacle’s workshop for restoration before being reinstated.

In other repairs, craftsmen used ropes to get to inaccessible areas of the medieval building's riverside front - where it wasn't possible to use scaffolding - to carry out restoration work there.

Pinnacle MD Adam Hickey said his team had also carried out repairs to the historic building's mosaic flooring.

"We are delighted to have contributed to the wonderful conservation work at the York Guildhall," he said.

"Being a local company, (we) have been able to deploy expert craftspeople from the immediate area to carry out conservation repairs to fascinating parts of the Guildhall’s fabric from rebuilding the upper portion of the stone tower, refurbishing the windows, and repairing significant parts of the mosaic flooring."

York Press:

York's historic Guildhall reflected in the River Ouse. Picture: Frank Dwyer

The work done by Pinnacle is part of a larger £21.7 million project to restore and redevelop the Guildhall which began in September 2019 and is expected to be completed this year, about 12 months later than expected.

The University of York has already signed a 15-year lease for the building, and plans to turn it into a hub for entrepreneurs, start-up businesses and events run by York Science Park.

The site will also boast a cafe, separate riverside restaurant, offices, meeting rooms and conference space.

Since the project began, it has been dogged by setbacks, caused by everything from high river levels and a shortage of some materials resulting from the pandemic, to the discovery of historic human remains and other archaeology.

But City of York Council now says progress on the project is 'continuing at pace'.

Heavy construction work at the site finished at the beginning of August, and a tower crane used in the work was dismantled by a separate 100 tonne crane working from a barge on the River Ouse.

York Press:

The crane being lifted from the Guildhall building site in the summer

Councillor Nigel Ayre, the authority's executive member for finance and performance, said: "On a recent visit to the Guildhall I was lucky to see up close some of the high quality workmanship that has taken place to restore and preserve this historic building.

"Our ambition has always been to safeguard the future of one of York’s most historic buildings for everyone in the city. By working closely with partners, we have been able to preserve the historic character of the building, whilst also redeveloping the building for business, social and civic uses."

Chris Winspear, regional director of the restoration project's main contractor VINCI Building, said there had been some 'unique technical and logistical challenges'.

But he said there would be huge benefits once the project was completed. "The development will bring the Guildhall's historic business role into the 21st Century, creating quality office spaces with the potential to create numerous jobs in high value sectors with much improved public access to this nationally significant heritage building," he said.

The Guildhall, which was originally built in the 15th Century, was the home of City of York Council until 2013, when the local authority moved to West Offices and launched a review of the condition of the historic buildings.

This revealed that it was in need of extensive work to repair structural problems.

Significant repairs took place after a fire during the Second World War, in the Baedeker raids in 1942.