Halifax's Piece Hall is the sole survivor of the great 18th century northern cloth halls. Built in 1779 as a marketplace for the region's hugely successful cloth trade, it was overtaken by the Industrial Revolution and its original purpose was short-lived. However, it has remained a Halifax landmark for over 240 years and has hosted events as diverse as a hot air balloon ascent, a tightrope walk, Japanese Taiko drummers, Calderdale's Pride celebration and an array of markets and commercial ventures.
It's also one of my favourite places on earth, so I was excited to be approached by cultural consultants Wafer Hadley back in 2012 to be part of their team supporting Calderdale Council's redevelopment programme for the Piece Hall. It was sadly neglected and needed work to restore the fabric of the building, revitalise the retail offer and interpret the heritage of this stunning building. Wafer Hadley's small team worked closely with the staff at Calderdale to develop proposals for learning, interpretation and audience development for a Stage 2 bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund. I led on formal and informal learning, consulting with teachers about the best way to create exciting opportunities for learning, developing ideas for engaging different audiences and working with the Piece Hall's local partner organisations to create plans for effective use of space and sustainable delivery.
We were really delighted that Calderdale Council's bid was successful and proud to have played a small part in winning £7m Heritage Fund investment for a unique and inspiring building. Now the work is complete, the building is a must-see destination in Halifax and I'm a regular visitor to the Piece Hall with my family, who thankfully love it as much as I do. You'll often find me either outside Loafers record café or eating ice cream in the Yorkshire sunshine and admiring the view.