Gibraltar Cultural Services on behalf of the Ministry for Culture, has confirmed that the first phase of the refurbishment of Central Hall has been completed.
The works have been conducted by Soul Construction and GCS, and were carried out between June and December 2020. This entailed the refurbishment of the rear terrace, the entrance foyer and the main ballroom.
In past centuries, the Central Hall was a church serving largely the garrison in the South District. Past works had all but destroyed the character of this historical building, which is scheduled in the Heritage and Antiquities Act. The present restoration driven by GCS, in contrast, has respected the original form, revealing the elegant celling, with its original iron supports, and exposing areas of the original stonework in the inner walls.
The works were completed some months ago, but the unveiling was delayed as an act of respect to the community in the height of the COVID-19 wave in recent months.
As a church, the eastern facade had held a stained glass window. In August 2020, GCS launched a stained glass window competition with the support of the Ministry for Heritage and the Gibraltar Heritage Trust. The winner of the competition is Sean Ballester with a piece titled ‘The Dance’. The winning design honours the past and the present capturing the essence of this historical venue. It celebrates moments of connection, joy, laughter and love and represents many of the elements which the Central Hall embodies.
Mr Ballester will now work with GCS and a professional stained glass window company to create the final design based on his original work. The trio of stained glass windows will be a predominant feature at the Hall and will be permanently displayed at the eastern end.
The Minister for Heritage and Culture, Prof Dr John Cortes MP said: “I am very grateful to all my team at GCS and to Soul Construction for the extraordinary work in refurbishing this cultural space, as well as to the Gibraltar Heritage Trust for its support, sponsorship and advice. For the Government it is important to have a state of the art facility in the South District that will, as soon as COVID-19 restrictions allow, be accessible to all of Gibraltar as it has been for so many years, for weddings, parties and events. This is an extraordinary piece of work that has brought together my Culture and Heritage teams in so successfully adding real value to the project.”