Halifax Piece Hall was opened on 1st January 1779. It was built as a place for handloom weavers to sell their pieces of cloth, hence the name, and was a replacement for an earlier, smaller, Cloth Hall. More about the pre-Piece Hall period and the earlier Cloth Hall Although we tend to talk about "woollen cloth" there was a variety of cloths made from wool.More about woollen cloth It has also been called the Manufacturers' Hall and the Cloth Hall. At one time there were a number of such buildings in the North of England, although none quite like the Piece Hall. More about the Piece Hall in the 18th Century
Major towns in the West Riding all had Cloth Halls. Leeds Mixed Cloth Hall opened in 1758; Huddersfield was next, opening in 1766, followed by Bradford in 1773, another Cloth Hall in Leeds in 1775, and lastly Wakefield in 1778. None of these have survived.
The Piece Hall might not have survived either. The factory system meant that merchants could buy all the cloth they required from a few mills; the Piece Hall trade declined More about the Piece Hall in the 19th Century
Eventually the building became a wholesale market.More about the Piece Hall as a market At some time around the turn of the century, the Piece Hall Handprints appeared. The 1976 cleaning has made them much harder to see - in fact the left one seems to have disappeared completely - but the story of the marks left by a murderer goes on.In 1928 the Piece Hall was officially recognised as an ancient monument but it was not until 1972 that the decision was made to restore the building. The extra buildings which had been erected for the market were all removed and the building was restored, cleaned and the ironwork was repainted. Part of the first floor was made into an Industrial Museum (now closed) and Art Gallery, for some more of the space and the rest was converted into shops
The original 300 shops were rationalised into larger retail spaces more suited to modern conditions; when full, the Piece Hall will house over 50 small retail shops although at present there are some vacancies. The courtyard houses a fleamarket on Thursdays and an open market on Fridays and Saturdays. In addition, there are a number of special events (see What's On for a list of coming events and Piece Hall Shops for more details of shops).
More about the Piece Hall since 1976
The Piece Hall has a unique 18th century atmosphere and has been used in several T.V. programmes and feature films, including the film "Brassed Off".
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