PICTURE GALLERY and VIDEO: Big sing at the Piece Hall goes down a storm

It is a tradition that can trace its roots to the mid-Victorian era, but until last Friday night, the massed voices of hundreds of children had not rung out from the quadrangle of Halifax’s Piece Hall for more than 100 years.

The “big sing” was held every Whit weekend in the town, and local records indicate that up to 32,000 children and their families used to squeeze on to the courtyard and into the booths that surround it.

The Big Sing at the Piece Hall in Halifax

The Big Sing at the Piece Hall in Halifax

It has been revived for what organisers hope will again become an annual event, following the £19m regeneration of the Piece Hall last year.

About 1,000 children from 20 schools performed songs they had written themselves, based on local folklore, and under the baton of local music director Sam Dunkley, whose previous concert venues include the Royal Albert Hall.

One of the numbers tells of a thief who ran from Halifax to escape the town’s gibbet. Another recalls Halifax Zoo, from which a Canadian grizzly bear escaped and went for a walk down Siddal Street, just before the First World War.

A third song recounts the breathtaking tightrope walk performed by the acrobat Charles Blondin in 1861.

Mr Dunkley said: “It’s always a joy to create brand new songs with young people, and that these songs explore the history of Calderdale and will be shared at an event with echoes of the Whitsuntide Sings of old, is even more special.”