We’ve visited the Piece Hall, in Halifax, Yorkshire, on a number of occasions over the past couple of years. It’s always been a pleasant day out as it’s a very interesting place to visit.
Even though we live in Greater Manchester we always tend to head towards Yorkshire on a day out. To be fair we only live a couple of miles from the border and the driving conditions are a lot better.
Greater Manchester can get a bit hectic at times! Hence that’s why a lot of my posts are about Yorkshire.
(53.72197oN – 1.856917oW)
It’s an easy place to find, I follow the A58 to Halifax from where I live, but it’s probably quicker coming off at Jct 24 of the M62 and following signs for Halifax.
It all depends how much time you’ve got! Once in Halifax the parking is easy within the shopping precinct and the Piece Hall is a short walk from there.
It’s an ideal day out for someone with limited walking abilities and I will be definitely taking my mum on the next trip there.
This spectacular Grade I listed piece of Georgian architecture was built in 1779. It was built as a linen hall for weavers to sell their woollen cloth ‘pieces’ which they had produced.
Thus, where the name Piece Hall originates from. The original purpose of the hall was to deposit and expose to sale the worsted and woollen goods produced in the town and surrounding neighbourhood.
It was thought that by merchants and buyers meeting in one place, this would make a more effective and competitive market. Also, it was intended to disrupt the work of fraudsters.
Two sites were initially proposed – Talbot Cross and Cross Field.
Talbot Croft was chosen and purchased in 1774. Crossfield later became the new bus station in 1948. The Piece Hall is a very impressive construction with 315 separate rooms over two floors, surrounding a large open courtyard.
The unfortunate decline
With the event of the Industrial Revolution saw a change in the trading in small producers.
This resulted in larger mills in the local area trading directly with merchants and exporters.
It was then taken over via trustees by Halifax Corporation in 1868 and turned into a wholesale market hall. Large shops were converted from small rooms, a cellar was made and access to the courtyard created via the south pedestrian gate which had been enlarged.
Then again in 1971 the Piece Hall suffered another set-back with the disbandment of the wholesale market, resulting in businesses moving out into the town itself.
There was talk of the building being demolished, but government grants were found and again Halifax Corporation were able to benefit from this and turn the Piece Hall into a tourist attraction.
After a few alterations the new museum and art gallery were completed and the new Piece Hall opened on the 3rd July 1976.
It then lasted for 22 years but sadly closed in 1998.
The welcome revival
The Piece Hall then had a few quiet years and in 2010 with the help of Heritage Lottery Fund which was given to Calderdale Council, the Piece Hall was able to be restored and developed again.
The £19 million project started in January 2014 and finally the Hall finally re-opened again on 1st August 2017.
A charity called the Piece Hall Trust has now been set up to help maintain The Piece Hall which is indeed good news.
Shops and Cafes
The hall has many interesting and quirky little shops to look in, not your usual run of the mill high street chains. We quite like Al’s Emporium which buys and sells Vintage and second-hand retro furniture.
It also sells various decorative items such as mirrors, pictures, militaria, coins and jewellery. I picked up a really nice vintage looking watch on one of our visits – love it!
It is also a great place for alfresco dining and drinking with a choice of fine cafes and cocktail style bars, which are very welcome in our current climate.
I can recommend Blondin’s Ice Cream Parlour, which is a 1950’s Rock and Roll style American Diner. It was named after Charles Blondin who performed a tightrope walk across the Hall in 1861 which must have been quite an impressive sight.
So much so that this stunt was then recreated again in 2018 by high wire performer Chris Bullzini. It has won awards for its ice cream and also serves waffles, pancakes, roasted coffee and has a breakfast/lunch menu. Very reasonably priced too.
Attractions and Events
The Piece Hall holds many events from site-specific performances, street theatre, visual art, circus events and live music.
These coupled with an array of special food and drinks fairs make it a worthwhile visit for all. Some events are free like the next one on 19th June which is called ‘The Great Get Together’. This event was inspired by the late Jo Cox. It aims to celebrate kindness with live music, free food, family activities and various entertainment.
Live music events are very popular here too, when the Piece Hall was re-opened in 2017 and it played its first major music event by Father John Misty, an American musician and songwriter.
It was obviously a success and continues to have many various artists playing such as Shed Seven, Manic Street Preachers and the Kaiser Chiefs, a local Leeds Band.
I’ve certainly got my eye on this list and will be hopefully popping over to listen to some live music soon. Perhaps you will too