House that started city's textile trade

Bradford's Paper Hall survived the English Civil War to almost perish at the hands of 1970s' town planners. Deputy Business Editor Greg Wright discovered that it could provide a home for a creative company.

IGNORE the rumbling traffic, and try to imagine gun smoke swirling around Paper Hall.

In early 1644, Bradford resembled Bosnia in the 1990s. Guerrilla warfare was waged around it, as Parliamentary and Royalist forces tried to gain control of Yorkshire.

The Paper Hall, which was built as a private house about 1640, is a remarkable survivor from that time.

It really should have been wrecked in March 1644, when the Royalists raided Bradford in a failed attempt to oust Parliamentary forces led by Colonel John Lambert. Perhaps Roundheads tussled with Cavaliers in the Paper Hall's grounds?

In more peaceful times, Paper Hall became the home of industrialist James Garnett from 1794 until his death in 1829. Many credit Mr Garnett with bringing the industrial revolution to Bradford. He installed spinning machines in Paper Hall, which kick-started the development of the local textile trade.

The hall was almost bulldozed in 1972, until Bradford University professor Jimmy Ord-Smith founded a campaign group which was determined to prove that the planners of the time didn't always know best.

The group raised hundreds of thousands of pounds, and Paper Hall was saved and restored in 1993.

Acting on behalf of The Paper Hall Company, commercial property agent Eddisons is seeking tenants for the Lower Wing – a 2,125sq ft self-contained suite.

"This is an exciting opportunity for anyone looking for an office that is a little out of the ordinary," said Eddisons' Jonathan O'Connor. "The Paper Hall boasts 400-years of heritage, but was refurbished in the 1990s to cope with the demands of modern business. It not only offers new occupiers a historic address, but one that is equipped to the highest of commercial standards.

"As well as having a place in the hearts of both historians and Bradford people, the Paper Hall will always be close to our hearts as it was the home to Eddisons in Bradford for many years," added Mr O'Connor.

"There's nothing like it in Britain and this sort of opportunity comes along once in a decade."

He said it would be an ideal home for a design company or "something potentially a bit quirky". The hall stands on Anne Gate, overlooking the city's inner ring road (A650).

Nobody is sure how the hall came by its name. It could have been used as a Roman Catholic place of worship, which might have given rise to the title Papist Hall.

Another theory is that the name could reflect its links with textiles, going back to the days when fabric was used as a form of wallpaper.

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