THE MULTI-million pound refurbishment and renovation of the historic St George's Hall in Bradford has reached a major milestone.

This week the white canopy and scaffolding which has been hovering over the Grade II-listed building while the roof was repaired and replaced is slowly starting to come down.

As the Lockwood and Mawson-designed building emerges from its coverings, the extent of the work both inside and out will become more readily visible.

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It is more than a year since contractors began work on site and more than twice that since the historic 1850s building closed.

What is emerging is the result of the painstaking work from experts in heritage stonemasonry, with damaged sections of sandstone removed, replacement pieces, cut and carved and fixed back in to place.

In addition work on the now completed roof has been comprehensive. Once the slates were removed, it emerged that the rafters needed replacing too - but the results mean no more undulating roof.

As the scaffolding comes down, it will provide the space for the stonemasons to work on the lower parts of the building which are currently blocked by the temporary structure.

Three new doors to create the new main entrance onto Hall Ings can then be fitted, as well as completing the new glazed entranceway onto Bridge Street.

But it is the internal renovations which provide for the most striking changes.

In the newly-opened out ground floor bar area, a smart grey paint covers the freshly-plastered walls and the honeycomb-shaped mirrored ceiling is installed and ready to be uncovered - to reflect the impressive mosaic floor tiles that have been revealed by the Hall Ings entrance.

As we left the once dark red woodwork surrounding the doors was being painted a fresh cream. A new open-plan kitchen and bar area has been installed in the main lobby area, with sympathetic modern lighting installed too.

Christophe Hamard, senior project manager at Bradford Council, explained that work to reinforce and level the floor in the main auditorium for the new retractable stage had been completed. In the coming weeks a new solid oak floor for the remainder of the auditorium will be delivered and fitted.

The ornate ceiling and its bold colours have remained relatively untouched, but a decision to paint the walls grey to cover the darker red shades has lightened and refreshed the auditorium.

Higher up, the old tiers which housed the seating had already been covered and altered on our last visit in March in an effort to improve poor sight lines and boost legroom. They are now being painted and carpeted, with new balustrades fitted.

It won't be long before the reupholstered seating will begin to return to the upper tiers.

Mr Hamard told the Telegraph & Argus: "As of September, the roof is completed we are now starting to remove the scaffolding to allow the remaining stoneworks to be completed. The stonemasons will finish the upper level works and go down alongside the removal of the scaffolding.

"Internally we have done a lot of works in relation to finishing the rewiring, all the structural work is completed. We are now doing the decoration and ensuring the aesthetics are working. As you have seen all the painting is more or less done. There are a few additional coats to be done, but on the whole we are on track.

"In the upper tiers, the balustrades are being fitted, and carpets are being installed and this will follow in the lower tiers afterwards.

"In terms of remaining works, big jobs to be done between now and January are the replacement of the auditorium floor, completion of all the balustrades, replacement of all the fire doors, the re-installation of the seats throughout and external lighting and the digital signage.

"There will be a lot of cleaning needed too."

He added: "This is the first major refurbishment of the hall since it was built more than 150 years ago - it now won't need any refurbishment for the next 40 years."

The project is now a £9.5 million programme of work and theatregoers will be able to see acts in the reopened venue from January. The first booking is comedian and TV presenter Sandi Toksvig and her one-woman comedy tour, which comes to the theatre on January 10, 2019.

While the internal works will be completed by the beginning of that month, some external works, including the glazed Bridge Street entrance are expected to take until the end of January to complete. There is expected to be "minimal" scaffolding remaining on the building and some hoardings in place, while the final external works are completed.

The project is being funded by the Council, which owns the building, and £1.5m towards the stone renovations has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund.