Today’s the day - the gates are set to be opened for people to get their first glimpse of the new look £19m Halifax Piece Hall.
The gates are being opened around 9.30am today, Tuesday, August 1 (and Yorkshire Day), to allow local people to be the first to explore the Piece Hall, which has been closed for three years.
Then at 10am Halifax-born wheelchair racer and Paralympian Hannah Cockcroft MBE will ring the restored Piece Hall bell to mark the start of trading, echoing the first ever day of business in 1779.
Members of the public will be able to explore the Grade 1 Listed building and experience the immense, open air piazza - once used for the trading of cloth and to host amazing spectacles - which is now enclosed by a mix of independent bars, shops and cafés.
It will provide a stunning backdrop for a seasonal programme of events which will attract estimated footfall of 1.6m through the gates every year.
Entertainment will around the hall all day and into the evening, but the aim is that it is a chance to explore the hall.
The transformation has been made possible by funding from Calderdale Council, a generous £7 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund – thanks to National Lottery players – and kind support from the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation.
Nicky Chance Thompson, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust, an independent charity formed to manage The Piece Hall, said: “For anyone that has yet to experience The Piece Hall, it’s not easy to get across the scale and grandeur of the place. It brings to mind Covent Garden’s ‘Floral market’ with a grand courtyard that is reminiscent of Somerset House, combined with magnificent Italian-style architecture.
“Given the phenomenal 200-year history of the building and scale of the transformation, it’s incredible that until now, it has been one of the North’s best kept secret, but that’s all about to change.
“We look forward to welcoming back local people, and inviting visitors from all over the world to experience this transformation which celebrates our extraordinary history and will offer a unique cultural destination for generations to come.”
The opening marks the culmination of an ambitious three-year transformation project delivered by Calderdale Council and designed by LDN Architects. Key elements of the conservation and build programme include the careful restoration of the 18th century stonework and the upgrade of infrastructure and services to convert the original 315 units (once used for storing cloth) into exceptional retail and public facilities.
Coun Barry Collins, Calderdale Council’s deputy leader, said: “The transformation of Halifax’s magnificent Piece Hall is now complete and we’re looking forward to hearing people’s reactions as they see the impressive changes for the first time on Yorkshire Day.
“Our ambition for the Piece Hall was to conserve the building for future generations, whilst creating a world-class tourist attraction that would strengthen the local economy.
“Once again, we’d like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation for sharing our vision and for their generous support.
“Yorkshire Day will mark the council’s handover of the building to the independent Piece Hall Trust, who have really exciting plans for its future.
“We’re confident that people from Calderdale and beyond will be visiting this 21st century heritage destination time and time again in the years to come.”