First off, let’s not get all corny about re-inventing historic landmarks and stuff. I’m from the other side of the Pennines to Yorkshire, so when invited to the opening day of Harveys new Home and Gift Shop located in the newly refurbished Piece Hall in Halifax I just thought I would pop along to see what these normally canny Yorkshire folk have been spending 20 million quid on for the last 3 years.
Piece Hall Re-Opening
Arriving just before the gates on each entrance were opened, I joined the expectant queue of early- bird visitors being given maps and organised by the information and security staff – all very good-humoured. Then it’s gates open and into the – well er, I’m not sure what you call it. The title is Piece Hall – from when cloth was bought and sold by the ‘piece’. Being a textile man, one of my first purchases as a textile student was a Piece Glass for counting PPI (that’s picks per inch, not dodgy insurance), so I’m guessing there is some connection there somewhere – I like to think so.
But Hall it certainly is not. The gates open to an incredibly-sized square, reminiscent in scale of the larger piazzas in Madrid, Rome and other European cities. The football pitch sized square is surrounded on all four sides by 3 floors of Georgian style columns fronting trading establishments of varying size and genre. In short, it’s an eclectic collection of eateries, drinkeries (I just made that one up – but check out Gin Lane) and shops for fine homewares, fashions, jewellery, gifts and crafts. Museum and exhibition spaces are also present.
Halifax-born heroine and Paralympian Hannah Cockcroft
The official opening was by Halifax-born heroine and Paralympian Hannah Cockcroft, in front of literally thousands of locals and visitors. The family-friendly day was cleverly on Yorkshire Day (ouch) and it was great to see kids jumping up and down and splashing in the water-step sculptured features. I’m not sure if the square needs a focal centre, but perhaps that’s the point – it’s an open space to use as necessity dictates.
I spent some time in Harveys Home and Gift Shop on the first floor (Rustic Level) and they were certainly busy all day long. Best selling items were the ‘Halifax Home Wherever I Am’ tea towels and mugs, and of course ‘Yorkshire Wherever I Am’ gifts. But Molton Brown, Neom and other top quality products were selling well also. I then walked up to the main Harveys Department Store in the central Commercial Street area, and it was striking that the influx of visitors for the day made the whole area from the Piece Hall (cultural quarter) through the open-air but covered Westgate Arcade to the central area a very pleasant journey with lots going on. Piece Hall shops are open until 8pm so you can merge from day to evening just like in most busy cities. Then at night the whole area is lit by atmospheric backlights to the colonnade.First sale at Harveys at The Piece Hall
It’s hats-off to Calderdale Council
It’s hats-off (or should that be flat caps?) to Calderdale Council for bringing together the investors and plans to re-invent and re-launch this gem. I would certainly recommend a visit to Piece Hall – and check out other popular Halifax destinations such as Eureka for a family-friendly day out.
For more information visit The Piece Hall website