Halifax Cloth Hall Saved

The present government’s policy of slashing local government funding has caused massive problems in preserving heritage sites and museums, so here’s a rare bit of good news. This is from the i paper of 5 April

An 18th century trading centre of  Yorkshire handloom weavers is to get a new lease of life as a shopping and entertainment venue.

Grade II listed, 237 year old The Piece Hall in Halifax is in the mids of a £20m overhaul, with plans to reopen this summer. The unique building which contains a 66,000 sq. ft courtyard surrounded by a colonnade with 300 trading rooms, was built by cloth merchants in 1789. It has since played host to singing competitions, rallies and a daring escapade by Charles Blondin, the Victorian tightrope walker. The Piece Hall became home to market stalls in the 1970s and has been shut since 2014 as work began on the revamp.

Civic leaders hope it will become a major draw for visitors to Halifax, offering shops and a huge space for events including concerts, an outdoor cinema and Christmas markets. “We will come known one of themes unique venues in the country, and one of the most beautiful,” said Sam Mason, chief executive of The Piece Hall Trust.

Claire Slattery, arts and heritage manager of Calderdale Council, said: “People are dying to come and see it. This is going to become a must-see destination and they will not just visit once.”

The new-look Piece Hall will also feature a heritage centre, which will tell people about the building’s importance as a historic centre for the wool trade. The building which is the only surviving cloth hall in Britain, became the first industrial building to be listed as an ancient monument in 1928.

Well, that last sentence is not quite right. Bristol still has a former wool hall, built in 1828 built as ‘a market hall and warehouse’ now offices but retains echoes of its former role as the Fleece pub & music venue.

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