The Grand Opera House, Belfast

Spectacular conservation and structural restoration feat deserves a standing ovation…

Delivering the £12.2 million Grand Opera House restoration and re-imagination project was a very fulfilling experience for Tracey Brothers as they secure the future for one of Belfast’s most-loved buildings.

It was a tale of two buildings, as Peter Maguire Commercial Manager explained, “The focus of the work was split into two distinct areas. One was the extensive restoration of the 1895-listed auditorium building – which is one of the best surviving examples of the oriental theatre style design of the most prolific auditorium architect of the time, Frank Matcham – combined with the installation of state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems and new seating to meet modern-day theatregoer expectations. 

Alongside this was the re-imagination of the 2006 extension to make it more accessible for all and sympathetic to the historic auditorium building. Fitted out with rich finishes, it houses the stunning glazed helical staircase, enhanced bar and hospitality facilities and the installation of new interpretative spaces telling the story of the Grand Opera House.”

It’s not surprising that this unique restoration project threw up some difficult challenges. “There were very few records of the original building nor the extensive ad hoc repair and restoration works carried out during its previous 125-year lifespan,” said Peter. “We were planning to install and coordinate an extensive range of modern specialist theatre services but we couldn’t disturb the historic fabric of the auditorium which features ornate oriental mouldings and ceiling paintings. It took weeks of intensive surveys on site trying to identify routes for services which would ensure accessibility for future maintenance whilst protecting the building’s heritage.”

David Malseed, Contracts Manager added, “It was extremely challenging to bring a 19th century building up to 21st century standards when, effectively a lot of the structural elements that we were going to uncover were simply unknown. It required intensive co-ordination on site with an extensive team of specialists in order to incorporate over 100,000m of cabling for the audio and lighting installation into a building that was never designed for this – without leaving so much as a hairline crack to the existing fabric of the building.”

The 2006 building – known in the Grand Opera House as ‘Act 2’ – was completely re-engineered. Stripped back to its bare structure and re-fitted out to the highest standard of quality, this building has been completely transformed. James McKittrick, Construction Manager explained, “The circulation space in the existing building didn’t really work for the client. A major challenge was the need to remove the original metal staircases and concrete floors and replace with the helical stairs, which is a stunning new feature. We also had to remove one of the main concrete columns on the ground floor which was supporting the above three floors and roof, because its existing location hindered access to the auditorium. We had to design and install an engineering solution to hold up 120 tonnes of the existing structure temporarily whilst the column was removed and new steel frame installed. This entailed installation of a jacking and propping system which was removed gradually and load imposed upon the new steel frame. ”

Conservation

Conservation was the third major challenge and priority in this project, as Peter explained, “There are many extremely special plaster features throughout the whole building along with ornate ceiling paintings such as the original corner paintings which depict the four seasons, and the later McKinstry ceiling paintings.

“A team of experienced conservation artists from all over Europe had been chosen by our art conservation partner to clean the years of built up grime and restore the artwork. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions this plan had to be abandoned. Instead, local artists from all over Ireland were drafted in to carry out the work; some were young trainees who received the most challenging and rewarding training experience imaginable!

“The team cleaned and restored the paintings while working in the middle of a building site. A specialist designed dust-proof scaffold was installed to allow the artists to stand and work on the fine detail of the painting restoration, beneath which, construction works proceeded with forklifts and diggers traversing unhindered. Not the easiest of environments for artists to work in! The conservation artwork took place over a four-month period, and the results are astonishing; the tired artwork and features have been truly restored to their original splendour.”

There were many other challenges to overcome such as prohibition on hot works to minimise fire risk to the vulnerable auditorium structure; the complex location of the site on one of Belfast’s busiest thoroughfares and bringing floor levels back to original alignment, all the while avoiding any damage to the original features of the auditorium.

This project was always going to be a standout one for Tracey Brothers and for those who worked on it. “I’ve spent a lifetime working in construction,” said James, “I probably will never work on another theatre like it again. These projects are very rare and it means a great deal to have been professionally involved.”

David added, “Everyone, who is from Northern Ireland, has got some relationship with the Grand Opera House. When I was at primary school we attended the pantomime every year and I intend to bring my own children to it in years to come. It’s a jewel in the crown of the city’s historic buildings. To play a part in its restoration is a personal and professional highlight for me.”

James added, “When we were working in the backstage area I was thinking of who had been there before. The likes of Charlie Chaplin, Pavarotti and even trained wild animals have treaded these boards. There’s a lot of history attached to it. To bring it up to 21st century standards and retain what’s original – that’s an achievement.”

Peter concluded, “We’ve brought an iconic Belfast building back to life, which is incredibly satisfying. We hope the restoration and improvement works will provide a much enhanced experience for generations of theatregoers to enjoy in the future.”

PROJECT TEAM
Client: Grand Opera House, Belfast
Main Contractor: Tracey Brothers Ltd
Architect: Consarc Design Group
Project Manager: WH Stephens
M&E Engineers: Semple & McKillop
Structural Engineers: Albert Fry Associates
Interior Designers: Sundara Design
Theatre Consultants: Charcoal Blue


Drumlyon House, Drumlyon, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, BT74 5TB
T: +44 (0)28 6632 3471
E: [email protected]
www.traceybros.com

SUB-CONTRACTORS

Structural survey and interventions from Albert Fry Associates ensure the Grand Opera House will be safely enjoyed for future generations of theatregoers…

Albert Fry Associates provided Civil, Structural and Conservation Engineering consultancy services on the Grand Opera House refurbishment project.

Conservation works and interventions to the original theatre building included inspections, investigation and detailed survey of the building and its previous remediation and repairs.

Inspections included that of the timber-trussed roof, constructed in 1895, which was surveyed element by element both physically and by 3D laser scan, to allow modelling of the structure and assessment of its condition and capacity. Timber trusses and cast iron columns, including columns embedded within the famous elephant heads, were assessed. 

The historic decorative ceiling within the auditorium being of fibrous plaster construction – suspended from the timber roof structure by means of hessian and plaster ‘wads’ – warranted a comprehensive survey and assessment as such ceilings are recognised as being at risk if left neglected. 

Alterations to the modern front-of-house building included construction of a helical, central stairway linking the foyer to new hospitality suites and the heritage exhibitions on the upper floors. 

The enhanced access to the auditorium required the removal of the lower level of a full height reinforced concrete column. This was achieved by means of a robust steelwork transfer structure bearing onto steel mini-piles installed using a low-headroom piling rig. The transfer structure was efficiently concealed within a new decorative entrance portal.

The modern fly-structure over the stage required installation of a more automated scenery-handling system, with travelling hoists. This required survey and modelling of the existing grillage of roof trusses to ascertain the structure’s capacity to support the new arrangement. 

The refurbishment and enhancement of the Opera House were successfully implemented by the open, collaborative working approach embraced by the Opera House management, the contractor and the design team.


125 Ormeau Road, Belfast, BT7 1SH
T: +44 (0)28 9032 2025 – E: [email protected]
www.albertfryassociates.com

Hanna Mechanical services are market leaders in the supply, installation and service of all your building service needs…

Hanna Mechanical Services was responsible for total modernisation of the heating, ventilation and domestic services for the Grand Opera House restoration project.

Works included: the installation of modern new washroom facilities; new heating system for the main auditorium – which also included upgrades to the existing air-handling units and comfort cooling; new underfloor heating; ventilation; air conditioning and domestic services to the main entrance foyer, circulation areas and bars along with new comfort cooling to the administration offices.

Due to the building being listed and with rather delicate features within the main auditorium, Hanna Mechanical Services had to plan carefully how to install the mechanical services into areas without causing any damage and to ensure that it looked aesthetically pleasing. With close coordination between the main contractor and other trades this was achieved successfully. 

Commenting on the project, Contracts Manager Paul Graham said, “Getting to work on such an iconic building has been a great privilege for us, seeing not only the public face of the building but also behind the scenes workings of the building. To be able to modernise the mechanical services within this building has been a pleasure, and one that has a Hanna mechanical name to it will be one to talk about for years to come.

“Working with Tracey Brothers on this project has been flawless from the opening act to the final curtain on this project. The whole team worked in unison and got over any issues easily along the way. It has been a pleasure to work with them.”


T: +44 (0)28 9081 7841
E: [email protected]
www.hannamechanical.com

Ace Drains goes with the flow at Grand Opera House project…

Ace Drains Ltd was the main drainage contractor for the Grand Opera House restoration project. Specifically, the Lisburn-based firm carried out detailed CCTV surveys and reports on the drainage system before, during and after the restoration process. Ace Drains facilitates drainage solutions, trauma cleanse services and facilities management throughout Northern Ireland and are main contractors for Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Trusts. 

Martin Cleland is the owner of Ace Drains Ltd, with over 15 years’ experience in the industry. His company covers all commercial and domestic drainage issues across the whole of Northern Ireland and carries out property maintenance, pumping station servicing, repair works and guttering.  All work is completed by skilled engineers working to high standards and a 24-hour emergency drainage service, it means, someone is always available. The company started trading in 2016, Martin has taken over sole ownership in the last 10 months. “The business has expanded significantly with the help of the experienced team of experts working for Ace Drains,” said Martin. “We have grown, despite the restrictions forced by the Covid-19 pandemic during which, we worked hard to keep staff and public as safe as possible by providing specialised PPE and respirator equipment.” 

Commenting on the project he added, “It was very challenging. Every day was different with a great variety of works. However, due to our wealth of experience we were able to work with the contractor and to maximise productivity.  

“I have a very good working relationship with the main contractor, Tracey Brothers, for the past 15 years and have enjoyed working with them.”


Ace Drains, 43 Seymour Street, Lisburn, BT27 4SY
T: 0800 988 7070 – E: [email protected]
www.acedrainsni.co.uk

Patrick F. O’Reilly Ltd puts the sparkle back into Belfast’s ‘jewel in the crown’…

Painting and decorator contractor Patrick F. O’Reilly Ltd refreshed and refined the public face of the Grand Opera House during the restoration of this iconic building on Belfast’s ‘Golden Mile.’

An established painting and decorator contractor, for over 25 years in business they have been involved in many heritage and restoration projects across Ireland both North and South. Quality painting and decorating requires excessive, almost obsessive, attention to detail. From the corner of a coving to the tidiness of the building, Patrick F. O’Reilly’s team of skilled craftsmen are proud of their ability to make the smallest detail right. For example, hanging the Lincrusta wallpaper in the Auditorium and other wall coverings in the reimagined ‘Act 2’ building was a highly specialised task.

They work across Northern Ireland, Ireland and throughout the UK on a daily basis, operating in multiple sectors simultaneously. Regardless of the scale of a project; from residential homes to industrial sites they have a highly skilled team of painters and decorators under supervision of a site qualified manager to oversee all aspects of work including site management, Health & Safety, high standard workmanship, Quality Control and cost effectiveness. All staff are registered members of CSR, IPAF, NEBOSH, PASMA, First Aid and Asbestos Awareness. That will ensure a project is completed to a high standard and in a timely manner.

Commenting on his company’s involvement in the restoration project at the Grand Opera House, owner Patrick O’Reilly said, “This is a legacy job and we were privileged to be part of the history of it. Our apprentices have seen first hand the intricate detail and work involved completing this project, and we hope they will carry what they saw and learned with them throughout their careers.”


8A Loughway Business Park, Greenbank Industrial Estate, Newry, BT34 2TH
T: +44 (0)28 3025 0853 – E: [email protected]
www.patrickforeilly.co.uk

Croob Engineering Ltd awarded the general metalwork package FOR the Grand Opera House PROJECT…

Croob Engineering Ltd were awarded the general metalwork package, with an ongoing discussion around providing a proposal for the feature staircase for the Grand Opera House project. With this came major challenges, from design, to engineering, to aesthetics.

Based outside Castlewellan, Co. Down, Croob Engineering Ltd has been involved in the steel industry for many years, expanding – mostly by word of mouth into a competitive market within Ireland. 

Gabriel Farrell of Croob Engineering said, “We like to involve ourselves from the concept of a project with the architect, engineer, and client to help bring solutions to the table and make the dream a reality,” explained Gabriel. “All come with the understanding that deadlines are paramount.”

Commenting on the project, Gabriel added, “We worked closely with both contractor and client to provide an innovative design to comply with both regulations and the initial remit. The erection process was both arduous and intricate. However, our site manager, Darren McMullan, who is also the Company MD took all in his stride, and the finished project, we believe, speaks for itself. Darren’s input was certainly the most important aspect of the process and it ensured the final result was something Croob Engineering can be proud of.

“We would like to thank the contractor, Tracey Brothers, for appointing us to this difficult project. We have found that since our involvement with the Grand Opera House, we have received positive responses from other major contractors.”


T: +44 (0)28 4377 8985
E: i[email protected]
www.croobengineering.com

Landmark Grand Opera House redevelopment benefits from RTU product range…

RTU is delighted that several products from its range have been used in the extensive development project of the Grand Opera House, delivered by Tracey Brothers and with a project team including architects Consarc Design Group and Sundara Interior Design. RTU’s products contribute to the quality, performance and visual appeal essential for a venue that must accommodate high footfall while maintaining the visual beauty instilled by Victorian theatre architect Frank Matcham in 1895. The development includes the restoration of the original listed building alongside the reimagination of the 2006 extension to make it more sympathetic to the Matcham building, complete with a stunning helical staircase, enhanced bar, hospitality facilities and the installation of new interpretative spaces.The RTU coloured mortar works seamlessly to maintain an aesthetic appeal in continuity with the building’s exterior of brick and cast stone that mixes flamboyant Baroque, Flemish and Oriental styles. As well as its beauty, the performance of the Grand Opera House is an essential consideration for both its occupants and the environment, and RTU’s supply of ready-mixed concrete and floor screed contributes to the energy efficiency, build quality and durability of the venue as it enters into this new and exciting phase of its history. Theatre-goers will be delighted by improved facilities that include the transformation of the foyer and other public spaces, with a new bar installed in the restored 1980 glass extension overhanging Great Victoria Street, as well as beautifully refurbished stalls and circle bars.

Coloured Mortar

The introduction of a coloured mortar has a stunning impact on the final exterior appearance of your project. Supplying for over twenty years, RTU remains the largest manufacturer of tubbed mortar, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. We offer over 50 shades of coloured mortar to meet the ever-increasing assortment of brick and block designs available on the market. Sample kits can be provided to aid colour selection.

Ready-Mixed Concrete

RTU is one of the top suppliers of a construction industry staple that is essential to a building’s safety, performance, durability, and sustainability. As a multi-purpose product, RTU offers a great variety of mixes to meet the many challenges of modern construction, including pumped, air-entrained, fibre re-enforced, waterproofed, eco-friendly and foamed.

Floor Screeds

RTU’s traditional and high-performance screeds are produced in a range of strengths available as sand/cement, fibre, polymer modified and quick drying. In addition to its conventional and modified floor screed, RTU also provide liquid floor screeds: Ultraflo, a hemihydrate liquid floor screed; Ultracem®, a portland cement-based pump applied screed and Ultrabead, a poured insulating layer that improves the thermal performance of internal floors.


Discover more by speaking to a member of the RTU team:
T: +44 (0)28 9085 1441 – E: [email protected]
or visit: www.rtu.co.uk

Semple & McKillop were the mechanical and electrical consultants on the significant restoration and refurbishment of the Grand Opera House, Belfast.

As part of the integrated design team, Semple & McKillop were responsible for the planning, design and inspection of the highly efficient building services systems.

A significant challenge, which the consultant engineers addressed, was the integration of the engineering systems to meet the needs and expectations of the building users in the 21st century, whilst working within the constraints presented by this historic and iconic 19th-century landmark building.

Semple & McKillop had a key role in maximising the efficiency and sustainability of this historic build. Within the Auditorium issues including overheating and limited control were addressed, and the main heating and cooling plant was replaced, which has significantly reduced energy use and carbon footprint. Liaising with the wider design team, Semple & McKillop designed and specified the lighting for all areas including the Auditorium, bar and hospitality facilities, and the new interpretative spaces. Within the Auditorium, the original chandelier and balcony light fittings were subject to a retrofit ‘fade to warm’ LED lighting, producing a low-energy solution and creating a more welcoming and warm environment.


T: +44 (0)28 9033 1700
E: [email protected]
www.semplemckillop.com

As specialist conservation architects, Consarc faced a challenging brief; to ensure the Grade A listed Grand Opera House building was not only restored to its former splendour, but also future-proofed to enable the best theatre experience possible for future audiences, casts and crews.

While significant works were undertaken to introduce 21st-century infrastructure into the historic building, the fact that this is largely unperceived is testament to the thorough on-site co-ordination required to integrate new elements with the old.

Key aspirations of enhancing the visitor experience meant that the 2006 extension which contains the main box office and bar areas was reordered both internally and externally to sit more cohesively as a constituent part of the main theatre building.

Consarc Conservation is an award-winning Grade 1 accredited specialist conservation department within Consarc Design Group. Commenting on the project, James Grieve, project architect said, “We are extremely proud to have been involved in such a significant project, and the quality of the finished result is testament to the hard work of all involved.”


T: +44 (0)28 9082 8400
E: [email protected]
www.consarc-design.co.uk

Decowell was commissioned to undertake complete restoration of the decorative surfaces in the historic auditorium of the Grand Opera House.

The aim of this project was to consolidate and preserve the painted and gilt surfaces in order to maintain the most recent decorative scheme. This involved the conservation, cleaning, retouching and redecorating of architectural detailing, which is original to the building and part of Frank Matcham’s original design of 1895.  The auditorium had not been cleaned since the late 1970s, the same time as Cherith McKinstry’s fine ceiling paintings were installed. 

The paintings and decorative embellishments throughout the auditorium were fully conserved and restored.

Decowell is a specialist practice with 26 years of experience at the highest level,

providing a full range of conservation/restoration and consultancy services, specialising in the treatment of painted and applied decoration on plaster, stone, wood and canvas.  

The Decowell team of conservators and craftspeople restored the Grand Opera House’s magnificent decorative surfaces with the upmost care and consideration. Conservation treatment, established by research, informed their decisions following ethical principles as defined by the Institute of Conservations Professional Standards.


T: +44 (0)28 9045 2532
T: +44 (0)79 7692 9162
E: [email protected]
www.decowell.co.uk

Local experts, Belfast Mouldings, were requested to repair and restore the 125-year-old auditorium’s uniquely decorative plasterwork inside the Grand Opera House.

This included conserving, stabilising and reinforcing the existing enrichments and decorative panels and, where required, manufacturing new enrichments in their workshops and fixing these on site. They were also tasked with repairing and conserving the elephant heads that are synonymous with the GOH. 

After completion of the works, they also carried out the Baseline Survey for identification of the suspended ceiling over the main auditorium for any future works. 

Belfast Mouldings specialise in the design, manufacture and site-fixing of standard and bespoke plaster mouldings for interiors together with sand/cement mouldings for exteriors. This family-run business offers a personal and professional service specialising in superior quality fibrous plaster mouldings, including renovation and restoration.  

Commenting on the project, Tom Potter, proprietor of Belfast Mouldings said, “It has been a privilege to have the opportunity to restore a venue with such a strong Belfast history and an auditorium as rich and spectacular as the Grand Opera House. Having worked on the original restoration back in 1974 and later again in 1994 after a bomb had exploded in Glengall Street adjoining the theatre, it is fantastic to see it back its former glory.”


T: +44 (0)28 9064 6699
M: +44 (0)7802408848
Email: [email protected]
www.belfastmouldings.yolasite.com

EcoGrid Ltd supplied Alusthetic Triple Sealed Recessed Aluminium Access Covers to Tracey Brothers for their part in the fantastic restoration of the Grand Opera House.

EcoGrid were approached as suppliers because the project required a top quality and highly aesthetic product to match the grandeur and splendour of the interior of this landmark building. The Alusthetic covers matched their brief and look great.

The Triple Sealed and Locked range come in a wide range of sizes with clear openings starting from 150 x 150mm up to 1000 x 1000mm. They are locked in the corners, are odour proof and come in three recess depths of super shallow 21mm, 41mm and 61mm. They feature two seals at the base and a T-seal near the top.

EcoGrid is a family owned and run company based in Merseyside dedicated to the supply and fit of sustainable products to the building, civils and landscaping sector across the UK.


T: +44 (0) 151 639 4281
E: [email protected]
alusthetic.co.uk

Erne Facades carried out work to the roofing and flashings/soffits for the Grand Opera House renovation project.

The main element of work was providing a new curved roof to the Shakespeare room which required a skilful approach to ensure the new roof installation worked seamlessly with the existing roof.

Based in Co. Fermanagh, Erne Facades is a new company formed in 2019. Despite restrictions due to Covid-19 the company has grown steadily, with a lot of projects carried out in England and Wales.

As a small company they are very hands on – from initial design right through to handover.

Commenting on the project, Pearse Collins, Managing Director for Erne Facades said, “As a young company it was nice to be involved in such a historic building in Belfast especially with the curved roof being a prominent feature.  

“We have undertaken a lot of projects with Tracey Brothers and as always we found them extremely professional.”


T: +44 (0)2866240024
E: [email protected]

Based in Castledawson and having been in business for over 17 years, Fire Glass Direct have worked alongside Tracey Brothers on many projects and were honoured to be involved in the refurbishment of the prestigious Grand Opera House in Belfast.

The contract to supply and fit various mirrors throughout the Grand Opera House has been one of the company’s more straightforward projects over the years. However, great attention to detail was vital to the project as all mirrors had to be measured on site to suit recessed openings, while others required further work to allow for lighting and such.

Fire Glass Direct worked closely with Tracey Brothers to ensure all deadlines were met and that all areas were completed to the highest of standards. The company is delighted with the end result and would like to congratulate Tracey Brothers on the completion of the project.


T: +44 (0)28 7946 9133
E: [email protected]
www.fireglassdirect.co.uk 

Garuda Design worked within the design team to reinstate the historic grandeur of the Grand Opera House’s auditorium, alongside a complete renovation of the adjacent 2006 interior.

Within the main auditorium, it was essential that the original design aesthetic was preserved and enhanced.  The various years of patching were removed and re-invigorated, starting with the refurbishment of the beautifully hand-painted ceiling, which was painstakingly cleaned, repaired and restored by Ruth Bothwell from Decowell.  Archive block print by Watts of Westminster and Lincrusta wallpaper were selected for the auditorium and adjacent circulation spaces.  Bespoke carpet throughout the building was designed using various architectural motifs as their inspiration, adding to the luxurious palette of materials.

The glazed spiral stair forms the focal point within Act 2, drawing the eye upwards to the dramatic interlocking circles of the chandelier above.  Textural tiling, timber panelling and decorative lighting combine to form the unique bar areas, with a 3-dimensional bas relief forming the back-drop to the stalls bar, drawing the eye through the building upon arrival.

In short, this is an impressive mix of high quality finishes and luxurious elements, woven together to create a harmonious, uplifting and suitably Grand Entrance.


T: +44 (0)28 9031 9196
E: [email protected]

Iconic Stairs designed and installed the in-situ concrete feature staircase for the Grand Opera House redevelopment project.

This bespoke installation incorporated over 1 ton of steel reinforcement and around 9 cubic metres of concrete – that’s approximately 20 tons in total.

Iconic Stairs are the UK’s market leaders in the design and manufacture of bespoke in-situ curved concrete stairs and landings. In addition to their concrete range, they specialise in engineering and installing solid stone cantilevered stairs and steel stairs. 

Commenting on the project Brian Conway, Managing Director, said, “It was quite fitting for Iconic Stairs to be working on an iconic building such as the Grand Opera House. We welcomed the commission by Tracey Brothers to design and create our signature, gravity-defying floating concrete staircase.”


T: 0333 733 1166
E: i[email protected]
www.iconicstairs.co.uk

JM Coring Ltd provided wall sawing services for the Grand Opera House redevelopment project. Wall sawing is an effective and efficient precision cutting method, used to cut openings for doors, windows, vents and exits. 

JM Coring’s fully equipped team performed diamond drilling work on this project. Diamond core drilling utilises water to reduce the dust levels, which in turn reduces the noise level of the process.

JM Coring is Northern Ireland’s leading coring contractor, offering a wide range of sawing, drilling and demolition services throughout the UK and Ireland. With over 15 years experience in the construction and demolition sector, they have the expertise to provide solutions for a diverse range of projects.

Commenting on the project, John Martin MD said, “It was a pleasure to work with Tracey Brothers on this project and we look forward to working with them in the future”


T: +44 (0)7720 530394
E: [email protected]
www.jmcoringltd.com

Kirwin & Simpson designed, manufactured and installed the 1,000+ auditorium seating for the Grand Opera House renovation over four floors, combining modern technological advances with visuals that would not look out of place in such a historic building. 

The top-end seats provided by the Essex-based, specialist seating manufacturer incorporated hand-made solid wooden- back frames and individually tacked brass nails around the chair upholstery. 

Commenting on the project, Andrew Simpson, Joint-Managing Director, said, “The auditorium seating provides the closest physical interaction between the venue and with the audience. To be told our chairs were ‘the most comfortable I’ve ever sat in’ is very satisfying.” The appearance of the new Opera House is restored to its opening night glory whilst meeting all current regulatory requirements. 

“During this project we had to deal with the issues of Brexit and exporting from England to NI. We also, together with the contractor, had to work around the impacts caused by Covid-19. These included delays to the site progress, delivery of raw materials, disruption to production and restrictions on travel. Despite all these the job went remarkably smoothly.”


T: +44 (0) 1375 379200
E: [email protected]in-simpson.com
www.kirwin-simpson.com

Massey Catering Equipment Ltd designed, manufactured and installed the commercial kitchen, dishwashing area and the bespoke bars to meet the needs of theatregoers, touring production companies and staff at the Grand Opera House.

The specialist commercial catering equipment supplied: New Electrolux Skyline Combi Oven, Electrolux Professional Green and Clean Dishwashers, bespoke bar stainless steel fabrication, refrigeration, glasswashers, bespoke extraction system.

Trading since 1982, Massey Catering Equipment is committed to delivering competitively priced, high quality catering products, which are tailored to the needs of their diverse range of valued customers.

Commenting on the project, Philip Massey, Director for Massey Catering Equipment said, “We were pleased to be involved in this prestigious project and met all the contractor’s and client’s requirements. We adapted during the project when designs were altered to achieve the clients needs.”

He added, “We continue to have a great working relationship with Tracey Brothers and look forward to working with them again in the future.”


T: +44 (0)28 9261 9009
E: [email protected]
www.masseycatering.com

Metal Deck Ireland designed, supplied and installed a composite metal floor deck for the Grand Opera House redevelopment project.

The Omagh-based company was asked to design and detail construction drawings for approval and then supply and install the composite metal floor deck with shot-fired shear connectors, leaving the floors complete and ready for the reinforcement and concrete pour.

Metal Deck Ireland redesigned the requirement for on-site shear stud welding to avoid the site hot works in such an iconic refurbishment, thus eliminating this fire risk.  

Metal Deck Ireland offers complete design, supply and installation of metal floor and roof decks, mobile shear stud welding and reinforcement and concrete placement.

Commenting, Thomas Nugent, Managing Director said, “This project was a great opportunity to work on due to the building’s historical and iconic significance. The building has a fantastic architecture, which was designed by the prolific Frank Matcham.”


T: +44 (0)28 8225 9042
E: [email protected]
www.metaldeckireland.com

Oakvale Group were the specialist flooring contractor for the Grand Opera House restoration project.

Oakvale, Northern Ireland’s leading parquet and contract flooring professionals, delivered a high specification multi-function Junckers floor to the Baby Grand space on mezzanine level.

A family business with more than 25 years experience in flooring installations for both private commercial clientele, they bring a personal touch to wooden floors throughout Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK and Ireland.

Oakvale are Junckers Approved Maintenance Contractors and pride themselves on being able to approach all sizes of projects both private and commercial.

Company Director Neil McGuckin, said, “We hope through our extensive ties in the timber industry and our principles of quality, innovation and value that we can help deliver the right flooring needs for every project.”

All these qualities came to the fore during the Grand Opera House renovation to deliver stunning flooring throughout the building.


T: +44 (0)28 7965 9206
E: [email protected]
www.oakvalegroup.co.uk

The award-winning Advanced Scaffolding NI provided specialist scaffolding services for the complex Grand Opera House redevelopment project.

The expert team carried out all the scaffolding and access to the internal theatre and external of the building.

Based in Newtownabbey, Advanced Scaffolding NI has provided scaffolding solutions for some of the most complex projects in the UK and Ireland. 

Their services include scaffold inspection, design, project advice and drawings as well as scaffold erection and dismantle. Sectors they work in as well as residential and commercial include: highway maintenance, railways maintentance, bridge work, marine and harbour, and TV entertainment and media.

Commenting on the project, Robert Andrews, Director for Advanced Scaffolding NI said, “A company we have been involved in so many iconic projects around Belfast, but this has to be one of the best with it being such an important restoration project for Northern Ireland.”


T: +44 (0) 7799651226
E: [email protected]
www.advancedniscaffolding.com

Shellard Tiles are specialists in ceramic, porcelain, stone and mosaic tile supply and installation, which is why they were entrusted with the delivery of some of the most stand-out features of the Grand Opera House renovation.

Shellard Tiles supplied and fitted terrazzo to the front entrance lobby and staircase, porcelain tiles to WC areas and the distinctive mosaics to the bar fronts. 

“This is probably the most detailed tiling job we have ever been involved in, with so many different types and sizes of tiles to be laid,” said Ian Shellard, Managing Director. “The front entrance lobby and staircase in particular were the highlights of the job. The terrazzo had to be water jet cut to create the circles. It was a very detailed design and cutting process but was the most worthwhile element. 

Commenting on the project, Ian added, “This stands out in our portfolio as a unique tiling job in a unique and iconic building. We worked very closely with both Tracey Bros. and Sundara Design to achieve a very high-end tiling project. We, as a company, are very proud of the finished project.”


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www.shellardtiles.co.uk