Saturday, 26 June 2010

Textile and Industrial Heritage - Third White Cloth Hall

So, it was from somewhere near this building that Lunardi set off in his balloon in 1786 (just behind the Corn Exchange now, though that wasn't built until the 1860s).

In the 1770s the Third White (undyed) Cloth Hall was built in the Calls. This was a single storey building with Assembly Rooms incorporated over the northern end at a cost of £2500. The bulk of the trade occurred on Tuesdays and Saturdays and one third of all woollen cloth exported from England was handled by Leeds merchants amounting to £1,500,00 a year at a time when a worker’s cottage cost £40 to £50.

The First White Cloth Hall opened in Kirkgate in 1711 as a response to a new hall in Wakefield threatening to take Leeds trade. Before this cloth, woven at home, was sold twice weekly at an open market in Lower Briggate. Facilities included storerooms for individual townships and hamlets, including Bradford, Batley and Heckmondwike. Trade continued to expand at such a pace that a new White Cloth Hall was needed by 1756 and a third erected in 1776.

The Second White Cloth Hall had a life of only 20 years and was demolished in 1786, the only surviving piece is the cupola which was added to the third hall.

By the time the railway arrived the building was obviously not as important and was sliced to make way for the line in the 1860s. The First Hall, though much altered still survives today.

Was there a Fourth Hall near the Mixed Cloth Hall and the cupola from which of these two now adorns the Hotel Metropole? More research needed......

Consulted "The Illustrated History of Leeds". There was indeed a Fourth White Cloth Hall (1868-1895) on the site now occupied by the Hotel Metropole and it is that cupola on top of the hotel.

This printed fabric was hand stitched by Merel Jackson (11 hours)

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