One of key figures in the transformation of the Piece Hall has made it onto the shortlist for the Best Rescue of a Historic Building category of this year’s prestigious Historic England Angel Awards.
Claire Slattery, Calderdale Council’s Arts and Heritage Manager, took on the complex restoration of The Piece Hall,
She is a highly skilled arts professional with many years’ experience both as a curator, safeguarding objects and celebrating why they are important, and as facilitator of the creation of diverse new work. Working for the Council to support and promote arts and heritage to enrich the lives of residents and visitors, she saw a unique opportunity to restore The Piece Hall.
Her dedication to the Piece Hall sustained the team who wrote successful bids to the Heritage Lottery Fund and several foundations to bring the complex project to completion.
“From the beginning of our project we recognised the need to reinvigorate this Grade I listed building, which is unique in the history of pre-industrial Britain," she said. "Unlike many Georgian buildings of this scale, The Piece Hall was built by local, working people and our aim was to return the Hall to its pivotal position at the centre of public life in Halifax, to play an important role in the region once more.
“Watching people delight in the building, answering their questions and listening to their stories about The Piece Hall has been the best part of the project so far.”
The transformation has been made possible by funding from Calderdale Council, a generous £7 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund – thanks to National Lottery players – and kind support from the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation.
The Piece Hall’s grand reopening on 1 August 2017 attracted 27,000 visitors.
Councillor Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Leader, said: “On behalf of the entire Council, I pass on our huge congratulations to Claire, whose hard work and determination have helped to create an incredible heritage destination.
"Claire is part of an amazing team who have ensured that The Piece Hall is a world-class attraction, which everyone can be proud of and enjoy for years to come.
“The remarkable transformation has conserved our heritage in a vibrant cultural and learning quarter, and will boost the local economy as one part of a whole range of developments across Calderdale.”
Nicky Chance-Thompson, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust, added: “The Piece Hall has been a significant part of Halifax since 1779 when it opened as a hub for trading cloth so it was vitally important that the building’s illustrious past, as well as its potential for the future, was at the heart of the restoration.
“The creation of three interactive learning spaces; The Piece Hall Story, The Trader’s Room and The Map Room shows the importance of Halifax and its traders to the world’s woollen trade.
“In her role as Arts and Heritage Manager for Calderdale Council, Claire and her team have been invaluable in helping to bring to life The Piece Hall’s incredible history.
"We are so pleased that Claire has been recognised by the Historic England Heritage Angel Awards for her foresight and dedication to a project close to the hearts of so many in Halifax and beyond, ensuring that The Piece Hall will engage, inform and delight visitors for years to come.”