The Piece Hall in Halifax is a grand, historic building, which would not be out of place in Italy, rather than in West Yorkshire.
It’s origins go back to the 1700s when ‘ worsted and woollen goods’ were woven by many small businesses and local weavers in villages scattered across West Yorkshire.
Merchants and traders would purchase their wares direct from the weavers, which meant travelling across the wild terrain of Yorkshire on horseback. In the 1770s, fifty years before the first train ran from Stockton to Darlington, a group of manufacturers decided to build a hall for ‘the purpose of depositing and exposing to sale the worsted and woollen goods manufactured in this town and neighbourhood’.
Land was purchased in September 1774 with the splendid new Piece Hall being opened on New Years Day, 1779. Sadly the building cannot be attributed to a particular architect, although several names have been suggested……Thomas Bradley, Samuel and John Hope and John Carr being among the favourites.
A description of the Piece Hall, dated 1831, says ‘The Piece Hall was erected by the manufacturers and is a large quadrangular building of freestone occupying an area of ten thousand square yards with a rustic basement storey and two upper storeys fronted with two interior colonnades which are spacious walks leading to arched rooms where goods in an unfinished state were deposited and exhibited for sale to the merchants every Saturday from ten to twelve o’clock.’ There are in fact 315 rooms where individual manufacturers could display their wares.
Sadly the success of the Piece Hall was short lived. As the Industrial Revolution gathered momentum, large mills were built with the latest machinery being installed, which forced traditional manufacturers to close. Finally, in 1868, after many years of decline, the Piece Hall was acquired by Halifax Corporation, who converted it into a wholesale market.
Eventually, in 1971, the Piece Hall was deemed unsuitable for use as a wholesale market and faced demolition. Fortunately, following funding from central government, Halifax Corporation were able to turn the Piece Hall into a tourist attraction.
The latest reincarnation of the Piece Hall was facilitated by a grant awarded to Calderdale Council by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2010. This funding was augmented from several other sources including Calderdale Council themselves. The original 315 rooms have been converted into independent shops, restaurants and bars.
Whilst the spectacular new courtyard can stage a huge range of events including….
- Contemporary and classical music
- Food and drink celebrations
- Film festivals
- Seasonal festivities
- Sporting events
Further information is available here
PS We would be most grateful if you left a comment or shared this post. Many thanks. Val and Ian