Monument to cloth is among country’s top trading centres

The Piece Hall, Halifax
The Piece Hall, Halifax
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The restored Piece Hall in Halifax, the monument to the Industrial Revolution described as the Piazza San Marco of Yorkshire, is named today as one of the country’s 10 most significant trade and commerce edifices.

The list, curated by the Victoria and Albert Museum director and former MP Tristram Hunt (inset), is part of a campaign by Historic England to encapsulate the nation’s story in 100 places, sorted into 10 categories.

Earlier this year it identified Sheffield’s Hillsborough Stadium, and a tiny Quaker chapel near Ilkley among the most significant leisure and religious buildings.

The Piece Hall, which Mr Hunt calls “an architectural and cultural masterpiece”, was built in 1779 as a centre for merchants and buyers to trade pieces of cloth. It is the largest remaining cloth hall in England

Mr Hunt, who compares its layout to that of St Mark’s Square in Venice, said: “From its inception, the Piece Hall was a stunning combination of commerce and culture, an icon of hard business but also a testament to the history, lives and values of its surrounding community.”

The hall, which reopened last summer after a £19m restoration, is the only building in Yorkshire to make the list. Its other Northern entrants include the Rochdale Pioneers’ Shop, where the co-operative movement was founded, and the Castlefield canal basin in Manchester, the hub of the Bridgewater Canal.

The list also takes in the former Morris Garage in Oxford, where the prototype for the Oxford Bullnose car was produced, and the old furnace at Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, at which Abraham Darby pioneered the mass production of iron.

A more recent example is the 1986 Lloyd’s Building in London, designed with its pipes and staircases on the outside.