Halifax’s historic Piece Hall is achieving its goals as it is embarking on its third year.
That's the view of Roger Marsh, chair of the Piece Hall Trust, and the trust’s Chief Executive Officer, Nicky Chance-Thompson.
The leaders believe the trust is achieving its goals – using a stunning heritage building re-purposed for the 21st century as an economic driver for Halifax and wider Calderdale, while offering a diverse selection of businesses, shops, arts and entertainment to visitors in a building anchored in the community.
The trust has commissioned a detailed report which is due in the autumn and is confident it will demonstrate the Piece Hall has brought real economic benefits to Calderdale, with an international appeal which brings visitors in increasingly large numbers – now topping the five million mark in just over two years.
Mr Marsh said running the building was not without its challenges but the 18th century former cloth hall, rated by Historic England as one of the 100 most important in the country, was giving the borough economic uplift.
“We’re in a good place from a standing start,” he said.
The approach included not only restoration and renovation but resilience, getting the offer to visitors and local people right.
“We have to futureproof it rather than just renovate it,” he said.
Since opening it had staged an event a week, ranging from community events to special presentations which attracted people from far afield to Halifax, said Mr Marsh.
Images of the Piece Hall have been used on the cover of a major national tourism document and are even seen on posters on the London Underground with one comment to him being “It looks like St Mark’s Square in Venice – where is it?” – and happy to supply the answer.
Ms Chance-Thompson said another satisfying role had been helping businesses located there to develop, sometimes from scratch, and prosper.
With one opportunity to get the offer right, time had been taken and businesses carefully selected to bring just the right mix.
For example Loafers – a vinyl records and coffee shop – had quickly become established as a music icon, had expanded within the Piece Hall and was itself becoming involved in organising events there, promoting a concert in December, said Ms Chance-Thompson.
Businesses who had located at the Piece Hall saw it as a place where you can be a success. Another example, Al’s Emporium, had thrived since moving in.
“You have to work hard, but you can be successful,” she said.