Work has begun on a project to revitalise one of Leeds’ most historic buildings thanks to £1m funding from the National Lottery and Historic England.
The plans will see the First White Cloth Hall’s west wing restored, a new covered courtyard with atrium built and a new shopfront put in place.
Contractors have moved in on the site, with work to restore and reinvent the building scheduled to be completed next spring by contractors, HH Smith and Sons.
Built in 1711 to ward off competition from surrounding towns, the building played a key role in establishing Leeds as a dominant force in the textile trade.
In fact the First White Cloth Hall proved so successful that a larger cloth hall was required, but this was to the detriment of the building itself.
It went on to be used for a number of alternative purposes but gradually fell out of use and its condition declined, with most of the building being vacant by the 1960s and the last small part of the building to be occupied was vacated around 2010.
First White Cloth Hall (Leeds), a subsidiary of Leeds based developer Rushbond, acquired the building in January 2017.
Since then both they and their design team, led by Buttress Architects, have worked closely with Leeds City Council, Historic England and the Leeds Civic Trust to develop the scheme.
Mark Finch, director of real estate at Rushbond, said: “The story of the First White Cloth Hall is one that begs to be told – and what better way then to bring the building back into use and re-purpose it for the future.”