It started out a mizzly sort of day. Thankfully all of the 26 who were attending arrived well on time and we set off on the 2 hour journey to Halifax. As we arrived it was raining gently but thankfully it ceased as we broke into two groups and started our tour of the Piece Hall. Our guide, Peter, was very informative and tried his best to keep us out of the wind as he regaled us with information about the manufacture of cloth, its importance to Halifax as a developing town and the history behind the hall.
The Grade I listed building is absolutely unique. It is the sole survivor of the great eighteenth century northern cloth halls, a class of buildings which embodied the vital and dominant importance of the trade in hand woven textiles to the pre-industrial economy of the West Riding of Yorkshire, from the Middle Ages through to the early nineteenth century.
Dating from 1779, when it was built as a Cloth Hall for the trading of “pieces” of cloth (a 30 yard length of woven woollen fabric produced on a handloom). The Piece Hall was the most ambitious and prestigious of its type and now stands in splendid isolation as the only remaining example. It is one of Britain’s most outstanding Georgian buildings.
In an ambitious and exciting new chapter, The Piece Hall has been re-imagined as a new cultural and commercial centre having recently undergone a £19 million conservation and transformation programme, incorporating a visitors’ centre, shops, eateries and other businesses.
After our tour many of us headed for some warmth and refreshment and there were numerous establishments within the hall and surrounding town.
By 2pm we all met outside the Victoria Theatre for a performance of Swan Lake by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia.
As the promotion material stated, “The greatest romantic ballet of all time is brought to life by Tchaikovsky’s haunting and unforgettable score”. I think we all thoroughly enjoyed the performance not only of the ballet company but also the orchestra which accompanied them.
As we boarded our bus and made our way home the sun was shining on the picturesque dales. There were comments on the physical prowess of the dancers and Brian noted that perhaps Dawn may be thinking of introducing some new moves into Keep Fit group.
I think myself and others really enjoyed the social, architectural and cultural aspects of this visit. Thanks to Brian for once again for producing a Grand Day out.