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Historic cloth market reopens
The Piece Hall, Halifax, UK ©Tim Green

Historic cloth market reopens

01/08/17Culture

Once the centre of the global woollen trade, the Piece Hall in Halifax, UK, will reopen today (1 August) following a three-and-a-half-year renovation of the Georgian building.

Built between 1774 and 1779, the Grade-I listed building is the only surviving cloth hall in the country, and one of three in Europe.

Nicky Chance-Thompson, chief executive of The Piece Hall Trust, said: “It has been a hidden gem in the past, but it won’t be hidden for much longer.”

Local authorities, having provided £10m (~€11.2m) of the £20m required, hope it will become a cultural attraction for the West Yorkshire town and the UK more generally.

The 66,000 square feet courtyard will host arts events while the 315 units in the galleries which surround it, formerly used for storing cloth, have been transformed into bars, shops and cafés. The council hopes to attract up to 1.6 million visitors every year.

Designed by local architect Thomas Bradley, the restoration of the hall was a complex process as no detailed plans existed.

Councillor Tim Swift, leader of Calderdale Council, said: “It’s a 250-year-old Georgian building for which no architectural plans exist, so it was always going to throw up a few surprises. We knew that a cemetery existed underneath the Piece Hall, but it turned out to be bigger than we thought.”

Conservationists discovered that the remedial work would have to be more extensive than planned due to poor repairs. To complicate the plans further, a graveyard with 217 skeletons was unearthed.

Pan European Networks Ltd