Main hall

Burmantoft Tiles

One of Wesley Hall’s most striking features is the tiling which starts in the entrance way and leads through to the main hall. The tiles were made by a Leeds based firm, Burmantofts, established 1859. The company was known for its production of decorative bricks and tiles which were usually glazed in muted, earthy tones of greens, browns and ochre. Several notable buildings are furnished in Burmantoft tiles including Leeds Art Gallery, the National Liberal Club, London, the Midland Hotel, Manchester and the University of Leeds Great Hall. From 1880 the company also produced art pottery such as vases and other decorative domestic items; an original jardinière is on display in the museum. The firm closed in 1957 despite its ninety kilns spread over sixteen acres of land at the time.

Burmantoft tiles

The Organ

Wesley Hall’s original organ is the main focal point of the building. Originally housed in the chapel behind the hall, the organ was installed in its current position when the chapel was demolished, 1952. Its pipes cover most of one end of the building while the organ sits underneath in the centre of the room. The bellows for the organ were situated in what is now the restaurant kitchen. This room was in a particularly bad state with water running down the wall, the other side of which there is a bank of earth. Unfortunately, the wooden bellows were completely rotten and well beyond repair. However, after specialist advice each pipe was removed, numbered and restored before being put back in its original place. The wooden supports which hold the pipes in place were covered in thick layers of paint which needed careful removal to expose the original wood. Stripping the paint revealed the remnants of wording: UNTO THE LORD A NEW. It is likely, considering the Methodists strong association with music, and its position over the organ, that this is from Psalm 96:1 UNTO THE LORD A NEW SONG, . 


Writing in the wood

Writing discovered during the restoration

Floors and Walls

The parquet flooring continues throughout the main hall, refurbished by Neil Robinson, Hinderwell. The raised walkway below the organ was rebuilt for structural purposes. It was laid with Kardean flooring in the style of parquet by Fletcher and Woodhouse of Whitby. The granite wall below the organ was chosen because its colours compliment the Burmantoft tiles so well. It was sourced by Lowes Marble and Granite and fitted by Peter Thraves, both of Derbyshire.

The walls above the tiles were painted in lime green before restoration. A more suitable off-white colour was chosen for the redecoration. The paint was a special variety called ‘Classidur,’ designed for use in churches and historic buildings it has a high resistance to mould and damp. It was expensive at £200 for 12.5 litres though worth it for a long lasting, professional finish.


The windows were a large and costly part of Wesley Hall’s restoration. Around 90% of the windows needed to be replaced, not only because of broken glass panes but also due to the buckling of the lead edging and dividers caused by slow movement of the building over a hundred years. Alan Davies, an Architectural Glass Artist from East Barnby was chosen to do the repairs.

Stood in each window surrounding the Hall are ghostly figures of historical people. These were donated by Chatsworth House at the end of their ‘House Style’ exhibition, 2017 which marked 500 years of dressing the Devonshires. Each figure depicts attendees of a fancy dress ball held by King George V and Mary of Teck to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, 1897. They are a wonderful fit in the building due to the strong historical associations between the Museum of Whitby Jet, Queen Victoria and 19th century fashion.


The wood facade and stained-glass windows which separate the museum and shop from the restaurant are reclaimed interiors dating from the late 19th century. These were sourced from Taylor’s Classics, Stafford, who have a great selection of reclaimed and antique furniture and who also make modern furniture to suit period buildings. All of the tables in the restaurant are modern but are made in the Victorian style to reflect the building. The long central table is fitted with a glass exhibition case, used to showcase the museum's most impressive artefact - the largest specimen of Whitby Jet in the world. The chairs also from Taylor’s Classics, are Victorian, restored and reupholstered in leather to match the Burmantoft tiles on the walls.


Reclamation warehouseTaylors Classics, Stafford

Fixtures and Fittings

During the renovation of Wesley Hall, it was important for all original fixtures and fittings to be cleaned, mended if necessary, and restored before being reinstalled in thieir original position. These ranged from small items such as door handles and locks to much larger fixtures like radiators and doors. This work was time consuming, but satisfying and vital for maintaining smaller, original details. The radiators in the main hall were covered in thick layers of brown paint which was removed and then the metal re-polished. This was several days work but I'm sure you will agree had fabulous results.


Beautiful, exquisite detail of the Victorian radiator against the Burmantoft tiles