Halifax in Calderdale, West Yorkshire (or better the West Riding of Yorkshire) is the place of my birth and although my emotional attachment to it is somewhat tenuous these days, it still has significance for me, and I’ve been glad to visit it several times since our move back to Leeds. One of its major attractions is the Piece Hall ……
“The Piece Hall was erected by the manufacturers (of woollen and worsted cloth) 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” (1831)
It reopened recently after an extensive, £19 million, restoration and we took the opportunity to go and take a look at the transformation on a beautiful autumn day. The old stones and the 315 rooms are still there, the latter with a change of purpose and now housing a range of eating options and boutique-style shops….. although in truth many are empty as yet and many have variations on the theme of “coming soon” in their windows, so it is still something of a work in progress.
The dramatic change is in the great courtyard within the square of C18th building, which is now a wonderful conglomeration of paving, steps, stainless steel tubes, gradients and even water features which offers a huge range of opportunities to visitors of all ages and backgrounds. It wasn’t all that busy on the day we went, but even so the mix of ages, races and purposes was truly striking. I’ll include some images, a fairly random selection from those I developed, and add to them a recommendation to visit and an intention to return ourselves!