Key features of the former Co-operative department store in Newcastle city centre have been replaced, developers have revealed.
Construction firm Interserve granted exclusive access to Chronicle and Journal photographers to showcase some features of the Grade II listed building that have so far been restored and revamped.
The works, which are due to be completed towards the end of 2015, will turn the landmark property into retail units and a 184-bed Premier Inn.
Since April this year the property, which includes the Art Deco Newgate Street portion built in 1930 and the older 1902 portion on St Andrew’s Street, has undergone a painstaking overhaul.
Decades of redecoration, partitioning and reconfiguration within the building have been peeled back to reveal many of the building’s original features.
It took some four weeks to remove all the asbestos in the the 170,000 sq ft property which extends over six floors.
Some of the building’s striking copper domes have now been replaced and in October developers plan to reinstate copper and bronze clocks and barometers that were stolen from the site earlier this year.
Shaun Paramor, commercial manager at developers Interserve, is enthusiastic about progress on the project, which has been closely monitored by Newcastle City Council to ensure it adheres to strict preservation guidelines.
He said: “We’ve uncovered a lot of the building which has been hidden for decades. The extent of ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s decoration is enormous and there has been a lot of work involved in carefully peeling back those layers.
“All the aging windows and masonry require attention to detail, and we’ve brought in local firms to do a lot of the work - such as Classic Masonry and John Aynsley.”
Mr Paramor added: “We’ve also uncovered the original colours of the building across areas like the facade - once the building and restoration work has finished these colours will be reinstated.”
The period balustrade around the building’s staircase is supported by the famous “running men”. The feature has been restored by Whitley Bay firm John Aynsley. It was Mr Aynsley’s great-great-grandfather that originally installed the feature.
Work has also uncovered the ornate cast iron columns of the building’s original arcade, which have now been carefully removed and dismantled, ready to renovated offsite.
A war memorial that commemorates Co-operative workers killed in action once featured on the ground floor of the store. This has now been restored and is intended to feature in the reception of the Premier Inn.
The £17m construction project is being undertaken by DTZ Investment Management, in partnership with Interserve.