First White Cloth Hall - Back to its Former Glory
After years of neglect plans have been revealed to restore and revive Kirkgate's First White Cloth Hall.
The Cloth Hall owners, Rushbond, plan a sympathetic but striking redesign for the building, retaining and enhancing the archways, introducing a glass atrium and introducing a modern element at the rear of the building. Subject to approval, the aim is for work to start early in 2018.
Grant Prescott of Buttress, the architects behind the plans, said: “It is a privilege to be working on such an historic building. In re-establishing its historic form with the re-creation of its missing wing, the restoration of key features and the addition of sensitive and respectful new interventions, the building will provide a unique opportunity to have a major presence in the vibrant part of the city. The contemporary addition to the south also provides a strong connection to the Corn Exchange, complementing the restoration of the northern elevation onto Kirkgate itself.”
This listed building was instrumental in Leeds “upping its game” - providing the first covered area to trade in cloth in Leeds to compete with its then big regional rival - Wakefield, and
marked the beginnings of Leeds developing into a textile powerhouse, so it is important that this key part of our heritage is saved for future generations.
Martin, Director of Leeds Civic Trust said “We've campaigning for years for the First White Cloth Hall to be brought back to its former glory after falling into disrepair. We are delighted that this scheme – a subtle combination of restoration and refurbishment together with sensitive modern interventions to ensure that the building is practical and usable in the 21st century– could start on the ground early next year.”
Rushbond's Mark Finch said: “There are lots of great things happening in Kirkgate by lots of different people. The oldest street in Leeds now has new stories to tell. This is also a unique opportunity for a new occupier to help write the next chapter in the First White Cloth Hall’s story. Although the revived building will lend itself to a variety of uses, the prospect of the Hall being part of the burgeoning fashion scene in Leeds is a particularly enticing one. Arguably, it is where fashion in Leeds began!”
He added “We hope that this leap of faith from the developers Rushbond PLC, will encourage other property owners on Kirkgate to follow suit – joining Wapentake and The Doghouse, to contribute to the rejuvenation of this historically important thoroughfare.