Industrial Heritage Online

Industrial Heritage Online

Piece Hall or Manufacturers' Hall

Described by English Heritage as 'probably the most important secular building in Yorkshire', the Piece Hall comprises two and three storey ranges of galleries, originally containing 315 traders' rooms laid out around a quadrangle and occupying almost 10,000 square yards. Those without rooms traded within the courtyard area. Trading was restricted to just two hours each Saturday with strict rules governing the conduct of business, both of merchants and manufacturers. After the hall had ceased to be used as a market for cloth, from 1871 until the mid1970s, it served as a wholesale fruit and vegetable market, but was then refurbished to become a museum, art gallery, craft workshops, retail market and a public entertainment space. The hall was re-opened on 1st August 2018 following a '£19 million conservation and transformation programme', which included a levelled and paved performance space in the central courtyard, a new east gateway and links to adjoining buildings including the Square Chapel Arts Centre, Orange Box and a restaurant facility. New lifts were inserted to provide greater access to the galleries and doorways inserted at each landing, necessitating the re-orientation of some of the entrances to the rooms of the former traders. The alterations have been subtly and sympathetically carried out in liaison with Heritage England, but represent the most significant changes to the historic fabric of the building since it became a fruit and vegetable market, and need to be understood by any modern student of its original function as a market for woollen cloth.

The construction of a new Manufacturers' Hall was first suggested in 1774 as a replacement for two ancient cloth halls (qv), situated at Hall End, which had long since become unsuitable for the level of trade carried on in the town. Divisions soon emerged amongst the subscribing manufacturers concerning both the location of the new building and the choice of its design; its eventual construction hampered by difficulties in raising calls from those subscribers. Each subscriber was originally to have paid £15, comprised of five calls each of £3; but when the grand opening of the hall took place on 1 January 1779, only 251 rooms around three sides of the hall had been completed, despite each subscriber having contributed £27 12s and almost £7,700 having been spent. New subscribers were sought to complete the hall and the western range was finished in March 1783, though further work continued after this date. The total building disbursements up to February 1795 amounted to £9692, compared to an estimated maximum income from subscribers of £9723, including a monetary donation of £840 from the donor of the land, John Caygill. The Piece Hall was initially successful, but the seeds of decline within the domestic wool textile industry had already been sown, as its gradual mechanisation led the new manufacturers increasingly to conduct their business from their own factories, or from town warehouses rather than the cloth market. By the late 1850s, many of the rooms were unoccupied, and despite a short-lived revival brought about by the introduction of a Saturday woollen market, and the building's use for meetings and public entertainment, the trustees signed the building over to the Halifax Corporation in 1868.

F.A. Leyland, 'The Manufacturers' Cloth Hall', Halifax Courier, 9 April and 7 May 1887.
J.H.Ogden, 'Building the Piece Hall', Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society (THAS), 1904-5, pp.184-194.
H. Ling-Roth,'The Genesis of the Halifax Manufacturers' Hall', Yorkshire Coiners 1767-1783 and Notes on Prehistoric Halifax, S.R. Publishers, Wakefield, 1971 (reprint of 1906 edition) chapter IV.
M.Garside, 'The Halifax Piece Hall', THAS, 1921, pp. 173-208.
R. Bretton, 'The Square and the Piece Hall, Halifax', THAS, 1961, pp. 67-77
The Halifax Piece Hall, Calderdale MBC, 1975.
J.S.Roberts, 'Halifax Piece Hall', Yorkshire Architect, 58, Jan/Feb 1978, pp.28-31.
P. Smithies, The Architecture of the Halifax Piece Hall 1775-1779. 1988.
P.W.Robinson, 'The Room Numbering Systems of the Halifax Piece Hall', THAS, New Series 15, 2007, pp.33-52.
YAS - Hatcher Card Index. Research funded by the Yorkshire Arts Association, 1972.
See also Jane Hatcher, The Industrial Architecture of Yorkshire Jane Hatcher, 1985
P.W.Robinson, 'John Aked joiner and raff merchant (1751-1810)', THAS, New Series 25, 2017, pp. 80-84.

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Key Words :- woollen worsted cloth hall wholesale vegetable market entertainment retail
Linked Sites :-
Address :- Westgate, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 1RE
Grid Ref :- SE 09559 25077
Co-ordinates :- Lat - 53.722014 , Long - -1.856618
Local Authority :- Calderdale Council
Pre 1974 County :- Yorkshire - West Riding
Site Condition :- Site conserved and open to the public
Site Status :- Listed - Grade I
Listing No :- 1273056
Monument No :- 47703
Site Dates :- started 1775 - opened 1779