See the start of a new era as 21st century look unveiled

Opening time: The Piece Hall will be open from about 9.30am on Tuesday, August 1, and will officially re-open when Hannah Cockroft sounds the restored bell at 10am
Opening time: The Piece Hall will be open from about 9.30am on Tuesday, August 1, and will officially re-open when Hannah Cockroft sounds the restored bell at 10am

For more than three years work has been going on, largely behind closed doors, to get the Piece Hall ready for its re-opening.

The project has had its trials, including upset as its cobbles were being removed - although these were only put down in the 1970s, were uneven and in no way original - and other incidents that come under the heading of “totally unexpected”.

No detailed architectural plans exist for the Piece Hall, so it was only when conservationists and civil engineers got on site that they could properly assess the work, with more extensive underpinning and remedial work than previously thought.

Then there was the issue of a graveyard underneath the Piece Hall revealing 200 ancient bodies which had been respectfully dealt with.

John Bradley, who built neighbouring Square Chapel, is one of the contenders as its architect. Hope Brothers can also stake a claim, and may have worked with him. But more recently Halifax local historian Stephen Gee has done research which suggests the hall may have been the work of John Aked.

When the Industrial Revolution totally change cloth production and sale the Piece Hall began its variety of uses through the years.

On display in one of three new heritage exhibition spaces is Halifax volunteer soldier Alexander Steele’s uniform and commission papers - remember this was a time before the police force existed and soldiers regularly drilled in the hall’s square.

Filmed fictitious characters - though based on real life obervations - middle class well-to-do housewife Mrs Bagshaw (1798), soldier Henry Booth (1806) and factory girl “Emma” (1842), who is proud to be bringing in a wage to her family - tell of their lives in Halifax past.

Originally the Piece Hall cost £9,692 - around £1.5 million in today’s money, according to the Bank of England’s conversion calculator.

The refurbishment has cost a lot more but a public building, centre of commerce and space is now in first class shape to face the future.

When the gates open to Halifax’s public again for that first look around at 9.30am on Yorkshire Day, Tuesday, August 1, ahead of a day of entertainment, you can see for yourself.