Halifax Piece Hall opens after £19m regeneration

media captionHalifax's Piece Hall opens after £19m regeneration

The UK's only surviving 18th Century cloth trading hall has re-opened after a £19m restoration.

The opening of the Grade I listed Piece Hall in Halifax was delayed several times since work started in 2014.

Hannah Cockroft, the Halifax-born British wheelchair racer and Paralympian, rang a bell to mark the start of trading on Yorkshire Day.

The Piece Hall Trust said: "It's not easy to get across the scale and grandeur of the place."

Nicky Chance Thompson, chief executive of the trust, said: "Given the 200-year history of the building and scale of the transformation it's incredible that until now, it has been one of the north's best kept secrets.

"We want to give the town a town square to wander around, have conversations and coffee."

image copyrightPAul White
image captionThe Georgian stonework of the units originally used to trade and store cloth has been renovated

Hannah Cockroft said: "I was blown away when I saw it , it's absolutely fantastic.

"I feel Halifax lost all this when Piece Hall shut now we've got it back and we've got it back 10 times better."

image copyrightCalderdale Council
image captionThe Piece Hall courtyard, shown here under reconstruction, can hold about 7,500 people
image copyrightCalderdale Council
image captionCalderdale Industrial Museum (on right of church) and the Square Chapel (on left) sit next to the Piece Hall

The 1779 Piece Hall's central courtyard has been levelled to create a new piazza with capacity for up to 7,500 people. It contains new lighting, seating and water features.

The structure that was once at the centre of a global woollen trade has had its stonework cleaned and renovated.

The original 315 units in the arcades (once used for storing and trading "pieces" of cloth) now contain new shops, cafes and offices.

image copyrightJohn Wilson Anderson
image captionThis picture shows the hall in its early days - originally a trading centre for "pieces" of locally-made cloth

An estimated 1.6m visitors are expected through the gates annually, said Calderdale Council.

It is hoped the Piece Hall, with its links to the nearby Square Chapel Arts Centre and Calderdale Industrial Museum, will form a new cultural quarter for the town.

image copyrightStephen Gee Collection
image captionit was also used as a wholesale fruit and veg market in the horse-drawn era
image copyrightArnold Jowett
image captionAnd it continued into the age of motorised transport in the 1950s

Halifax Piece Hall

  • Built 1779 as a trading centre for handloom weavers selling "pieces" of locally-made cloth
  • Since used for political rallies, pop concerts and film locations (including 1996's Brassed Off)
  • Fell into disrepair and closed for restoration in January 2014
  • Calderdale Council contributed £10m towards the £19m restoration, with £7m coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Additional funding was raised through a campaign
  • The council has said the restoration is one of the most complicated and large-scale undertakings of its type in the country.

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