It is a little piece of the past that is helping a West Yorkshire town continue to forge its future as a chic, metropolitan hub of modernity.
The Grade I-listed Georgian cloth hall in the heart of Halifax is spearheading the market town’s march in a bold, ambitious direction.
Described as ‘the Shoreditch of the North’ by a national newspaper earlier this year with the Â£19 million Piece Hall cited as its crown jewel, times are changing as Calderdale looks to the future.
Calderdale Council is working on a Â£4om project for the once-in-a-lifetime transformation of the town, including improvements to the railway station, pedestrianisation of its shopping quarter and creation of a beautiful public realm to encourage growth across the borough.
A separate Â£40m bid to provide a new state-of-the art leisure centre, to preserve and enhance Halifax Borough Market, and to create a new central sixth form college is also under way. In a few years time, they hope, Halifax could well be a very different place.
And the Piece Hall was chosen as the venue for an Institute of Economic Development (IED) event yesterday, where decision makers from local authorities across the country discussed the merits of major investment in regenerating towns and cities.
Mark Lynam, an IED director, said that the project is a prime example of what can be achieved by major investment.
He said: “We asked our members where they might want to go and the Piece Hall came out quite highly in that survey. It’s got a huge amount of profile since it opened and it’s exciting to hear about the process of its reopening and its role in where Halifax is heading.”
In just nine months since it was reopened in August last year, the Piece Hall itself has attracted two million visitors, housing the royal visit of Prince Charles and the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race.
Mr Lynam said: “It’s about how you use a facility after the architects and builders have left. More often than not, a lot of thought goes into regeneration projects in the first place, but not the plan for the site and the town afterwards. They’ve struck the balance really well here, a facility like this works for the 21st century, it works commercially.
“The area around the Piece Hall has started to see a real knock-on effect from its success.
“The public sector invest in a facility like this and, done right, it can have huge, far-reaching impacts on the surrounding areas. Halifax is starting to see that now.”
The ‘Shoreditch of the North’ tag, penned with a complimentary tone, listed a number of hip new bars, restaurants and music venues to have opened across Calderdale in recent years.
This, it was said, was indicative of an area going places, that had transformed itself into a fledgling rival to other Yorkshire towns and cities.
Council leader Tim Swift said: “The scale of regeneration in Halifax and across Calderdale is putting our area on the national and international map.
"The Piece Hall transformation is at the heart of our investment in a cultural quarter alongside the new Central Library and Archives and the Leeds Beckett University Business Centre at Piece Mill – thanks to these and other developments, the town is being compared to major cities in Europe.
"It’s an exciting time for Halifax.”