THE first phase of major restoration work at St George’s Hall Liverpool has been given the Royal seal of approval by HRH The Princess Royal. Staff and visitors at the landmark building were this week treated to a rare Royal visit by Princess Anne. It coincided with the completion of the first of five areas of the historic Minton tiled floor which have been earmarked for restoration work. Widely regarded as one of the finest neo-classical buildings in the world, St George’s Hall Liverpool is also a favourite building of Princess Anne’s bother, HRH Prince Charles. Princess Anne was given a tour of the Grade I Listed building by General Manager Alan Smith, and the Lord Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Tony Concepcion. Together they discussed the restoration project, which is the first major repair to the Great Hall since the iconic venue opened in 1854. St George’s Hall Liverpool is the world’s best example of an encaustic tiled floor. But over time, five of the Great Circles of the tiled floor have become badly worn and colours have dramatically faded and have been identified as the key areas for restoration. The five Great Circles are located around the perimeter of the Great Hall and form part of the natural walkway round the Great Hall. They were originally the route into the Crown Court, therefore they have become severely worn over time. Work on the first area is now complete, and Princess Anne was full of praise about the end result. The faded tiles have been replaced with exact replicas, this means the striking and intricate designs have been brought back to life with brilliant colour. The original tiles have been retained and will be displayed to the public in the St George’s Hall Heritage Centre. Work on the other four areas will follow in 2016 once funds have been secured. The first phase of restoration has cost £73,000, which has been raised by the Trustees of St George’s Hall and The Friends of St George’s Hall, with the support of Liverpool City Council. Further fundraising is now required to continue with the remaining four phases which could take up to 12 months to complete. Alan Smith, General Manager of St George’s Hall Liverpool, commented: “Our iconic venue is very much a great asset of Liverpool, so it is vital that restoration work is done with great care to protect and preserve its heritage for future generations to enjoy. The Princess Royal was extremely enthusiastic and encouraged by the quality and expertise required to replace the tiles. She fully understood the intricacies of the project ahead and wished us well with the remaining phases. “It has cost £73,000 to create the template and produce the distinctive Minton tiles to repair the first circle, this has been raised through the efforts of our dedicated supporters. However, we have a long way to go to reach our target and raise the funds required to complete the overall restoration project. We hope our visitors continue to support us in our efforts to maintain one of the city’s most important architectural gems.” While at St George’s Hall, Princess Anne also took time to see the Poppies: Weeping Window display. The Princess Royal’s visit was part of a wider trip to Liverpool, during which she also opened a new building at The Walton Centre. Experts Craven Dunnill Jackfield Ltd from Shropshire, who specialise in encaustic tile manufacturer, have been commissioned to create the bespoke tile. They will be installed by world expert restorer of Minton tiled floors, Brian Joyce from Maw & Co Ltd, who has worked across the globe on some of the biggest Minton restoration projects. During the 20th Century, the Minton floor was only shown six times. Since St George’s Hall Liverpool reopened in 2007, the floor has now been showcased seven times in just nine years.