Piece Hall

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The Piece Hall in 2009

The Piece Hall is a Grade I listed building in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. It was built as a cloth hall for handloom weavers to sell the woollen cloth "pieces" they had produced.[1] It opened on 1 January 1779, with 315 separate rooms arranged around a central open courtyard. As factories started up in the early nineteenth century the trade in handwoven wool declined and around 1815 the rules were changed to allow the sale of cotton goods.

As of 2016 the Piece Hall is closed while redevelopment takes place. The work is due to be completed in 2017.[2]

Construction[edit]

An 1831 description of the Piece Hall 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. This structure which was completed at an expense of £12,000 and opened on 1 January 1779 unites elegance convenience and security. It contains three hundred and fifteen separate rooms and is proof against fire.

— Samuel Lewis, A topographical dictionary of England[3]

Redevelopment[edit]

The Piece Hall closed on 16 January 2014 for redevelopment work, which will repair and conserve the building in-keeping with its Grade-I listing, as well as installing new services. A three-storey extension will also be constructed at the south-eastern corner of the building, between the Square Church spire site and Square Chapel.

On reopening, the Piece Hall will be a centre of trade, culture and heritage - continuing a tradition stretching back well over two centuries. The immense, 66,000 sq ft open-air piazza will be enclosed by a mix of independent bars, restaurants, shops, cafés and creative businesses. There will also be a visual arts gallery and the stories of Georgian Halifax will be told in a state-of-the-art heritage centre and interpretation spaces. The courtyard will be home to a rolling events programme that will include music concerts, film seasons, outdoor site-specific theatre and dance, sculpture, markets, ice rinks and sporting events.

The venue will be independently managed by the Piece Hall Trust, a charity responsible for realising the new vision for the Piece Hall. It's activities will "promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the environment by the preservation of the Piece Hall as a historic building and advance the education of the public in arts, sciences and history." [4]

In the community[edit]

The Piece Hall is in a central part of Halifax. It is located at the heart of a new Cultural Quarter for the town which takes in the neighbouring sites of Halifax Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, Orangebox Young People's Centre and the Central Library and Archive (due to open in 2016). Through the Piece Hall's North Gate is the Woolshops Shopping Centre, whilst from the West Gate can be found the historic Borough Market. The Piece Hall is close to both Halifax bus station and Halifax railway station.

Trivia[edit]

On the exterior of the Piece Hall close to the West Gate are a pair of handprints, there are a number of folklore tales surrounding these prints - one states the handprints are cursed, as over the years attempts to eradicate them have failed.[citation needed]

The 1996 film, Brassed Off featured a scene set and filmed on location at the Piece Hall. In the film it is the location of the National Brass Band Championships - Yorkshire Area Qualifying Contest.[5]

Also Maestro Music, once a successful music shop in the Piece Hall (until it closed due to the redevelopment work), had been the setting for a comedy sketch for BBC3.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Historic England. "Piece Hall, Westgate, Halifax (1273056)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  2. ^ "Delay to historic West Yorkshire hall's reopening". BBC. 1 June 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2016. 
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel. A topographical dictionary of England. Retrieved 24 August 2016.  Appears to be a close parphrase of Baines, Edward (1822). History, Directory & Gazetteer, of the County of York. E. Baines. p. 186. Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  4. ^ Charity Commission. The Piece Hall Trust, registered charity no. 1156948. 
  5. ^ "Halifax's Piece Hall restoration plan approved". BBC. 5 December 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2016. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°43′19″N 1°51′25″W / 53.721937°N 1.856917°W / 53.721937; -1.856917