I was lucky enough to visit The Piece Hall on their Welcome Weekend in mid-August. I’m sorry to say that the first time I’d heard of The Piece Hall was a few weeks prior to this as I was waking up to a news report on BBC Breakfast.
In my sleepy state, I was convinced the presenter was reporting live from a piazza in Rome or Naples. The sight of clear blue skies and magnificent architecture made me want to log on to my Jet2 account and book an Italian getaway immediately. Confusion quickly followed as the reporter persisted to say the word Halifax and I realised that he was actually in Yorkshire and if I wanted to go to this stunning venue I just needed to take a quick trip down the M62 – no passport or packing required.
I chose to drive to Halifax The Piece Hall is near to Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, which I have visited numerous times in the past and is only a short walk away. The friendliest of staff greeted us to The Piece Hall and as we proceeded through the opening we were greeted with the magnificent open courtyard. The scale and grandeur of the place really is breath-taking so it’s no surprise to see a cluster of people at each entrance, mouths open, taking in the spectacular view.
Camera phones were out to capture the perfect image but no amateur photo can do it justice; believe me, I tried. This magnificent courtyard is surrounded by multiple floors of Georgian arcades formally used for storing and trading pieces of cloth. They are now home to a mix of independent bars, restaurants, cafes, galleries and shops. I spent some time exploring these outlets, all of which are independent and full of character. I couldn’t help but pull up a stool and order a coffee in Loafers; a fantastic record store playing a great range of classics. I also bought one of my favourite candles from Harveys of Halifax; a great homeware shop, along with a bag of sweets from Spogs and Spice. As I weaved in and out of these unique shops I could experience the view from a higher perspective on the aptly named Rustic and Colonade levels. It really is a spectacular view from wherever you stand. Not all units were occupied so it was exciting to see what was taking shape behind each window. It’ll certainly give me a good excuse to return and see what new additions they have.
Lunch was next on the agenda so we proceeded to check out each eatery. I had my eye on a Yorkshire tipple at Gin Lane along with a tasty pastry but our tummies needed something more substantial so we ventured into Elder restaurant. The wait for a table was inevitable on such a busy day but we didn’t mind. It allowed us to perch on the stools by the window and watch the artists performing in the courtyard. Highlights of which included Circus Raj and Desperate Men. It was also great to see children paddling in the water features running in the corners of the courtyard.
Once delicious salads and wine were consumed we proceeded to explore the ground floor of the arcades including The Piece Hall Story exhibition which really brought home the importance of the hall back in the 18th Century and the crucial role it played in the textile industry. It is the only surviving building of its kind and I’m so pleased it’s been so carefully restored. I’m sure the residents of Halifax are proud of the transformation and people will continue to visit from all corners of the country. The yearly events programme of film, music and theatre in the 7,500-capacity central courtyard will certainly encourage people to visit on a regular basis. I’m hoping there’s a huge Christmas tree during December.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay and experience the venue at night. I’m sure the spotlights across the courtyard and arcade lighting make it a beautiful place to spend the evening. As soon as the nights starts drawing in I’ll be back to enjoy an alfresco G&T within this beautiful setting. Who needs a piazza in Venice when you have The Piece Hall in the heart of Halifax.
Find out more about The Piece Hall and a list of what's coming up on their website: http://www.thepiecehall.co.uk/