Having half term off from work and university meant that, as well as going to York, we had a bit of extra time to explore the local area. Halifax is fairly nearby and I decided to take my beau to the Grade 1 listed ‘Piece Hall’.
Dating from 1779, this gorgeous Georgian building was built as a cloth hall – for the trading of ‘pieces’ – which were a 30 yard length of woven woolen fabric produced on a handloom. This trade was vital to the pre-industrial economy of the West Riding of Yorkshire. The Piece Hall was a luxurious neo-classical statement of the great wealth, pride and ambition of the cloth manufacturers.
Originally designed as a trading market of 315 shop units, many are still occupied by local independent retailers; from a chocalatier, hand made glass jeweller to a mystical holistic therapy shop. Sadly, since my first visit 17 years ago, the place has deteriorated dramatically and the majority of the units are now unoccupied. Having spoken to many of the shop owners on my visit, moral is very low and many are talking of moving on due to the lack of support they recieve from the council and by the severe lack of visitors. Once a thriving community, markets are barely attended – even by stallholders – and one lady informed me that the previous weekend only one sweet stall had turned up to fill the courtyard space. This steady decline has meant that the public have stopped attending and so potential stall and shop owners are having to look elsewhere to sell their wares.
One lady who intends on staying put is the lovely Megan from the ‘Purple Rabbit’ vintage shop. Inhabiting a cute corner plot on the first floor, Megan uses her unit to design, create and display her vintage creations, wares and finds. She had this beautiful vintage tie and Cambridge scarf for sale, both of which I couldn’t resist from buying!
It is sad to see the demise of such a stunning building, but apparently a multi-million pound Piece Hall transformation project is underway which, hopefully, will resurrect the thriving potential of this beautiful timeless building.