Leeds' first ever commercial building rescued as restoration completed
The project, led by Leeds-based developer Rushbond, is now set for a new lease of life.
The history of the First White Cloth Hall is aligned with the modern history of Leeds.
Rapidly built in 1711 to provide the first covered hall for cloth trading in what was then the town of Leeds, it spearheaded both the commercial growth of Kirkgate, the city’s oldest commercial street, and a huge drive in the growth of the textile industry.
Architects from Buttress Architects and construction firm HH Smith & Sons, both based in Manchester, worked closely with the project’s partners - Historic England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Leeds City Council - and Leeds Civic Trust. The building has now been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register on which it was listed for more than 20 years.
The 500-year-old timber trusses which support the roof have been restored and reinstalled, and a unique pattern of brick bonding (the pattern created by bricks when used to construct a wall) has been replicated in the new brickwork on the building’s west wing.
The building consists of three ranges around a courtyard which opens onto the street. The ground floor has arches on each side, originally open, and the upper floor has three large rooms, originally used for trading cloth. The condition of the building was so poor that the west and south wings have been rebuilt, incorporating as much of the original material as possible. The courtyard has been glazed over to form a covered space.
Jonathan Maud, managing director of Rushbond, said: “It’s a momentous occasion to be able to reveal the building as we look forward to hearing from companies and organisations that are equally inspired by the new opportunity the building now offers”
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