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Huddersfield once had its own 18th century Piece Hall - have a look around it

Huddersfield Cloth Hall once dominated the town centre before it was demolished in 1930

Inside Huddersfield Cloth Hall courtyard(Image: Kirklees Archive Service)

The Piece Hall in Halifax is one of Britain's most prized 18th century buildings and Huddersfield once had a similar building.

At the top of Cloth Hall Street (the clue is in the name) was a huge circular building where cloth merchants plied their wares.

By the mid-18th century Huddersfield's textile trade was already in full swing. Huddersfield's Market Square had become too small to accommodate the number of clothiers selling their fabrics.

So around 1766 (more than 10 years before the construction of Halifax's Piece Hall) landowner Sir John Ramsden funded the construction of a purpose-built cloth hall.

According to Huddersfield Exposed, The Leeds Intelligencer reported in 1766: "We hear from Huddersfield, that the grand Cloth-Hall or Market-Houſe, built there at the ſole expence of Sir John Ramſden, Bart. is now open'd : 'Tis imagin'd it will contain two thouſand Clothiers, and does great honour to that town and neighbourhood, as well as to the worthy proprietor."

The red brick building - unusual for a town constructed from Yorkshire stone - was the largest building in Huddersfield at the time.

And it became even larger when Sir John's son added a second storey in 1780, a year after Halifax's Piece Hall opened for business.

In the 1790s new streets were laid out from the hall including Cloth Hall Street. Meanwhile Market Street was extended southwards to run alongside the main entrance of the hall.

The exterior of the building was restored in 1848 but by the 1860s the building was falling into decline as cloth manufacturers moved to mills outside the town centre which had enough space for their new machines.

Around 1875 the ground floor had become a general market and by the following decade it was being used as an exchange and news room.

Huddersfield Cloth Hall c.1851(Image: Unknown artist)

In the 1920s demand for building space in Huddersfield town centre had increased and it was considered that the Cloth Hall had outlived its usefulness.

Huddersfield Town Council decided in June 1929 that the hall should be demolished and a library built in its place. The demolition was completed in 1930 although the clock tower was transferred to Ravensknowle Park where it stands today.

The library plans fell through so instead The Ritz cinema (later the ABC) was built on the site, opening in 1936.

As well as films it hosted gigs by the then upcoming Beatles and Rolling Stones.

In turn it was demolished in 1985 to make way for the Sainsbury's which remains there today.

Credits: Huddersfield Exposed, Kirklees Archives, Ludditelink.co.uk

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