::           Opening The Town Hall Tower 17.11.2012          

Reconstruction (2010-2012)

In our journey through the history of the Town Hall Tower we have finally reached contemporary times. It's Tuesday the 8th June 2010. Under the north passage of Mid-Market block there gathered the representatives of the town's authorities, contractors of the investment referring to the reconstruction of the Town Hall Tower from „Budobratex” as well as journalists. The occasion is awesome as after 43 years from the collapse of the tower the town's authorities solemnly started its reconstruction. The moment is extremely significant, nobody will remember other investments implemented at the very beinning of the 21st century which – despite the fact that they were important to the town – were not connected with such a heavy load of history.

During the ceremony it was very difficult for Waldemar Skórski, the Deputy Mayor of Świdnica, to hide emotions. The Town Hall Tower was his focus of attention - at the very beginning as co-creator of one of the architectural designs and then as the Deputy Mayor of Świdnica who – together with his staff – dealt with a huge number of problems including design-architectural issues, preparing the European Union project without which the reconstruction of the Town Hall Tower would be impossible and obtaining subsidies for its reconstruction.

It was a long period in the history of our town during which the Town Hall Tower overshadowed the Market Square. It was a significant undertaking for builders as the narrow built-up area doesn't facilitate the work. We didn't boast of our idea referring to the reconstruction of the Town Hall Tower for many years despite the fact that we were thinking about this intention deeply. We didn't want it to be the next non-implemented initiative. Now we can say with pride – we are building it! - that is what Wojciech Murdzek, the Mayor of Świdnica, said during the celebration.

Before official celebrations the arrangement of construction site was started. It comprised, apart from internal courtyard of Mid-Market built-up area, also the fragment of the north part of the Market Square (without Mid-Market block) close to the Holy Trinity Column. Due to the fact that the maintenance system entrance is located in the Market Square and there are two passages (their thickness being approximately 3,0-3,5 m and small height) as well as due to monumental character of the built-up area of Mid-Market block it was impossible to bring heavy equipment into the courtyard. As no reconstruction of both passages from north and east side of the Market Square was planned , it was decided to place a small building crane on the north frontage of the Market Square.

The first building works included the demolition of walls and a flat roof which survived the collapse of the tower in 1967 and protected the Gothic arch of the tower. The temporary protection turned out to be extremely strong and the „Budobratex”staff had performed a good deal of work before they finally unveiled the Gothic arch. Archaeologists, for whom it was an unrepeatable occasion to complete the researches conducted within the last years in this area, also entered the construction site located inside the Mid-Market block. The excavation by the oldest part of the tower that survived unveiled the foundations (their width being only 1,30-1,50 m which was enough for the several dozen meters' first medieval tower). The first problem the builders encountered was the Gothic arch which was supposed to be incorporated into the new tower but in practice prevented it from performing the foundation works as provided by documentation. It was decided – after prior complete stocktaking specifying the location of particular granite boulders – to demolish and then reassemble it not before laying foundations. As a curious detail it is worthy to mention that 15 tons of armed steel exactly surrounding the reassembled arch were used to reinforce the arch and the lowest part of the tower. As far as concerns archaeological discoveries, apart from numerous data referring to the location of particular buildings of Mid-Market block and its development, the most significant postherd was – as it turned out – a small-sized medieval coin. Apart from this archaeologists found a fragment of cannonball from the period of Silesian wars. It will remain a secret whether it was that cannonball which led to the destruction of the Town Hall Tower in 1757.

Almost from the very beginning at the construction site there worked the staff of electricity distribution company trying to put power carriers in order which were frequently not catalogued and nobody even knew where they started and where they finished. There was a huge crowd due to the fact that at the construction site also designers, plumbing and gas system specialists as well as geologists were working in this period.

In June the elements of crane were delivered to the construction site and later placed in the vicinity of the Holy Trinity Column. Due to poor bearing capacity it was reinforced with four supports of which the foundations were laid at the depth of 5 metres! The first concrete during this investment was poured at the end of June 2010 during when the slab on grade foundations were laid of the passage between the tower and the building of Museum of Old Commerce.

In July and June the power grid and plumbing network were modified and some parts of them were not even included in the plans. During the next months onerous ground works (deepening the foundation trench of entrance pavilion) were performed.

In August monumental arch of the old Town Hall Tower was demolished. Some part of granite blocks (approximately 300) which were previously catalogued and numbered completely were protected. Contrary to what might seem the demolition of the Gothic arch wasn't easy at all. The specialist company cut the arch in several places and as a result its demolition was facilitated. Some part of granite boulders was managed to be taken out from the arch one at a time, however the other part came off the block weighing over a ton. When after the end of August foundation works were supposed to start the builders encountered a huge problem which caused the invetsment's delay of several weeks. After geological researches conducted it turned out that foundations of the tower and entrance pavilion couldn't be laid. They were supposed to be made in the form of 153 ground-cement piles deepened into the ground for 9 metres. Unfortunately, it turned out that the ground has too poor bearing capacity and the above-mentioned idea came to grief.

In September a steel construction of the tower's cupola was brought in parts to the construction site. The company „Budstaltest” from Złotoryja performed its assembly. The weight of the metal construction itself was almost 16 tons. Due to the fact that, after covering it with wood and metal sheet, the entire cupola was too heavy to be raised and assembled and that is why it was divided into two separate parts. At the end of September new foundations were finally designed by Keller Polska company. The making of over fifty foundation piles, which were deepened into the ground (7-9 metres) lasted almost four weeks. The piles were armed with steel I-beams (their section being 120 and 200 mm). It was assumed that approximately 70 tons of cement will be used to make foundation piles, however it increased upto approximately 120 tons.

Dealing with the foundations caused that at the end of October the staff of „Budobratex” started to lay slab on grade foundations of the tower. Totally this element of the tower required over four tons of armed steel. The size of the slab on grade itself is 8,20x8,20 m (its thickness being 1,20 m). 80 cubic metres of concrete mix was used to make it! Pouring the prepared reinforcement with concrete mix took place on Tuesday the 26th October. The slab on grade also facilitated the start of final deepening of foundation trench and cellars of entrance building. In November shorings of walls of entrance building were completed and it was also possible to start the reconstruction of the stone arch. Despite the fact that its precise stocktaking was performed during which each granite block and their locations in arch were numbered the stone masons had a huge problem as … some numbers written out before the demolition of arch, were erased. After putting together both arches of the tower wooden shorings were prepared.

After the problems with the laying of the foundations and „playing” with the arch finished, for which a lot of time was wasted, this time a strong winter attack from the half of November obstructed the proper implementation of the investment. It was as early as in the half of January 2011 that, after completing reinforcement works, the walls in the building's cellars as well as the ceiling above them were covered with concrete. For outside observers it could seem that during the next several months nothing particular was happening at the construction site. However, the walls of the entrance building and the Town Hall Tower were systematically climbing upwards. The companies Dyckerhoff and Renevis guaranteed the continuity of deliveries in the entire investment process and concrete mix was transported from concrete plant based in Świebodzice and Nowy Jaworów. The armed steel was provided by the company Prohutrem from Zawiercie.

At the very beginning of 2011 the shorings and reinforcement of walls of the Town Hall Tower reached the 1st storey (almost 5 metres).

In May 2011 the Town Hall Tower reached 13 metres. Outside the Mid-Market block the covering of wooden basis of cupolas with the copper sheet was started. 700 kilograms were used to cover it totally. In the period between June and July the tower works were continued and next storeys were built. The company „Stalmont” (its owner being Roman Janiszewski from Wschowa) was the contractor of reinforced concrete works. In the first days of August the ceiling was covered with concrete at the height of 24,55 m which was almost a half of the entire height of the tower (57,63m). As a result of this the works in the square shaft of the tower were completed and preparatory works connected with the raising of the tower's octogon and with Gothic windows and drum of the clock commenced.

In August the insulation of internal walls of the Town Hall Tower and entrance building with mineral wool (its thickness being 15 cm) started. In the latter the window reveals and front door were already assembled. They were delivered by the company „Simbud” from Wrocław. In practice until the end of 2011 the winter, exceptionally mild for builders, allowed for performing the works rapidly. In October the process of concreting of octogon was completed. Until the end of 2011 a partition wall was built and plastering works were performed in the entrance pavilion and bottom parts of the Town Hall Tower. The plumbers began the assembly of plumbing installations. The contractor of the works in question was the company „Hydromont” from Złotoryja and the company „Unitech” (its owner being Stanisław Sroka) from Świdnica dealt with wiring system. The covering of the facade of the entrance building with cladding – made of sandstone slabs - was finished. Sandstone elements and their assembly were provided by Zakład Przetwórstwa Kamienia „Kawo” (its owner being Adam Kasiedczak) from Nowa Wieś Grodziska close to Złotoryja. The works connected with ventilation and air conditioning system were performed by the company „AP Clima” from Wrocław.

At the beginning of 2012 an octagonal cupola base was performed and the tower reached 41,36 m. As a result in practice the concrete works were completed. With regard to this on the 17th - 18th January the crane FM Gru 1355 TLX that was no longer necessary and that was placed outside Mid-Market block was finally disassembled. On the occasion of the disassembly of the crane, for which a self-propelled crane from the company „Żuraw Grohmann” from Gdańsk was used, it was decided to uplift the bottom part of the crane in order to check its approximate weight and to order a proper crane to carry the cupola at the height of several dozen metres, its arm being considerably deflected. It turned out that it weighed 15,5 tons..

The clock was already ready. Waldemar Porwal from Olsztyn, the clockmaker master, was supposed to make it. The clock was supposed to include four dials (their diameter being 2,2 m each), clockwork consisting of gear wheel system of the clock as well as electronics steering the mechanism. The length of the minute hand is 1,10 m including the counterweight of 1,30 m. All elements of the clock which can be seen outside were patterned upon their original look from before the collapse of the tower. The gear wheel system, and specifically the clockwork, is not so big. Its weight does not exceed 10 kg. The clock dials were fastened directly to window-frames (2,5x2,5 m) through which it was possible to admire the panorama of the town. The size of numerals on clock dials is 35 cm.

Inside the Mid-Market block, after final completion of works connected with arrangement of power-and-heating network and carrying out the connection of terminals to new premises, it was begun to prepare the base for the arrangement of the square's surface with granite slabs. The arrangement of granite surface was started at the end of February.

On the 27th of this month the sphere with souvenirs, flag and star prepared earlier was placed on the spire of the tower's cupola. Waldemar Porwal, the clockmaker, used „wet bronze” technique which perfectly imitates gold to paint the elements.

On Monday the 5th March the cupola was finally assembled on the Town Hall Tower which was a technically complicated action as a self-propelled crane from Katowice had to lift both parts of the cupola at the height of 60 m. In order to lift them it was necessary to assemble special steel girders and grips the assembly of which resulted in the removal of decorative nets fastened on the tower.

The last four months before the commissioning and start-up of the Town Hall Tower are the finishing works performed intensively. Ventilation systems and lifts were assembled inside the building, not to mention building-concrete as well as tiling and flooring works carried out. Outside there were completed facade plastering works and sandstone balustrade, eight gargoyles and other elements of stonework on the viewing terrace were assembled. Clockwork with dials was one of the last elements to be assembled.

The Old Town of Świdnica regained its dominant role after 43 years.

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