Music legend Lord Lloyd Webber visits Halifax’s Piece Hall, in week it gets first national tourism accolade

Pictured from the left at the Piece Hall, Halifax, are Nicky Chance-Thompson (chief executive of The Piece Hall Trust) Lord Lloyd Webber, Mark Richardson (owner of Loafers Vinyl and Coffee, one of the shops he visited) and Roger Harvey (vice-chair of The Piece Hall Trust)
Pictured from the left at the Piece Hall, Halifax, are Nicky Chance-Thompson (chief executive of The Piece Hall Trust) Lord Lloyd Webber, Mark Richardson (owner of Loafers Vinyl and Coffee, one of the shops he visited) and Roger Harvey (vice-chair of The Piece Hall Trust)

Visitors to Halifax’s Piece Hall are getting used to the idea that they might bump into a celebrity when spending time there.

Yesterday’s visitors included musical legend Lord Lloyd Webber who greatly enjoyed his visit to the restored Grade I listed 18th century Piece Hall which opened again this summer after more than three years of refurbishment work on Yorkshire Day, August 1.

Lord Lloyd Webber, whose famous stage productions include Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Starlight Express and Jesus Chris Superstar, was the latest celebrity to put visiting the Piece Hall on their list of places to see, with artist Grayson Perry and DJ Sara Cox both visiting recently.

Piece Hall Trust chief executive Nicola Chance-Thompson, who met Lord Lloyd Webber with trust vice-chairman Roger Harvey, said it had been a pleasure to welcome him.

“We were honoured to host a private visit from Lord Lloyd Webber yesterday.

“I think it’s safe to say he fell in love with The Piece Hall and The Piece Hall community fell in love with him!

“So many of our tenants gave him gifts from their shops to take away as a memento of his visit that he said it was better than the Oscars!”

Lord Lloyd Webber’s visit certainly caused a stir, as he visited shops including The Yorkshire Soap Company, Blondin’s ice cream parlour and, appropriately, Loafers music and coffee shop.

It all shows word about the Piece Hall as being a place to visit on a national and even international scale is spreading, and this was one of the aims behind the regeneration and relaunch.

Further proof this week was shown by the Piece Hall winning its first national recognition at a key tourism awards night, being highly commended.

Each year, the British Guild of Travel Writers gives out its own special awards at a gala dinner at London’s Savoy Hotel on the eve of World Travel Market, with three categories, Best UK Tourism Project, Best European Tourism Project and Best ‘Wider World’ Tourism Award.

The Piece Hall was a finalist in the UK & Ireland category having been shortlisted among the final three with writers, editors, photographers and broadcasters first nominating initiatives they think deserve greater recognition.

Nicky Chance-Thompson said: “We opened our gates just three months ago, so to have been awarded ‘highly commended’ by the British Guild of Travel Writers in the Best UK Tourism Project category is just fantastic for us, especially as there were only three nominations across the UK and Ireland.

“There has been some terrific work in Calderdale in the last two years, to put the borough on the UK’s tourism map ahead of The Piece Hall’s re-opening.

“The national recognition of The Piece Hall is growing with this and the upcoming Historic England Heritage Angels Awards announced later this month bringing benefits to the whole region. Together with other cultural and leisure partners we are beginning to establish this best bit of Calderdale as an original tourist destination.”