The Piece Hall and Calderdale Industrial Museum, Halifax.
Thursday 24th October 2019.
17 members of the Local History and Vernacular Buildings Group visited this unique Grade 1 listed building in Halifax. The Group assembled at The Welcome Centre and did a self-guided tour of the Heritage Centre before exploring The Piece Hall itself and the various eateries.
The Piece Hall opened its door in 1779 as a Cloth Hall for the trading of ‘pieces’ of cloth (defined as a 30 yard length of woven woollen fabric produced on a handloom). Trade took place every Saturday between 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
It was the most ambitious and prestigious of its type and now stands in splendid isolation as the only remaining example of the great eighteenth century northern cloth halls – one of Britain’s most outstanding Georgian buildings. Built for trade, the building was deliberately designed in the neo-classical order of architecture, derived originally from the Romans.
It shows not only the vital and dominant importance of the trade in hand woven textiles to the pre-industrial economy of the West Riding but to the nation as a whole for over some 800 years.
Gradually the old cottage industries died out. By 1824 The Piece Hall was used as a wholesale market. After 1972 the wholesale market buildings were removed and restoration started.
After lunch the group assembled in the Calderdale Industrial Museum, just outside the East Gate entrance of The Piece Hall. The Museum houses a collection of industrial machinery and artefacts over four floors. Some of the machines are the only surviving examples in the country.
We had guided tours – down in the basement, where oil engine ‘Sadie’ provides motive power for part of an extensive collection of locally-manufactured machine tools, including lathes, drills and planers.
On the ground floor the story of power generation, from the water wheel to the internal combustion engine was demonstrated. The first floor displays products that were made in Calderdale including Crossley’s carpets.
Tea, coffee – then back home.
Leader: Val Walker-Wilton, with Keith Parker at the wheel of the community mini-bus.