Leeds Mercury (14/Dec/1929) - A Famous Building to be "Shut Down": Huddersfield's Old Cloth Hall

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.


Huddersfield’s Old Cloth Hall.


(From Our Own Correspondent.)


On the last day of the year the Huddersfield Exchange and newsroom, in the old Cloth Hall, closes its doors for ever. In the course of a year or so the Cloth Hall itself will be demolished, as part of the scheme for the widening and development of Market Street.

Thus vanishes a landmark. The building has enjoyed notoriety, if not distinction, for there has always been a diversity of opinion as to its architectural claims. Some people have regarded its circular form and its tower and turret with admiration. Others have not, and a famous artist is credited with having styled it “the ugliest building in Europe.”

Even to-day there is cleavage of opinion, on the desirability of reconstructing part of the old hall at Ravensknowle Park, adjoining the Tolson Memorial Hall, which houses many relics of Huddersfield’s past. The probability is that the tower and the turret — said to be the only one of its kind in the country — will be preserved, together with the bell, which has not been rung for many years. It is hoped it will be rung by a few enthusiasts on the last night of the year, when the doors close finally.

Outlived its Usefulness.

The Cloth Hall and the Exchange are now the property of the Huddersfield Corporation, having been taken over when the Ramsden estate was purchased ten years ago. The Exchange has outlived its usefulness; the telephone and the motor-car have played a big part in destroying its vocation.

Mr. Joe Dyson, of Golcar, who has made use of the building for 56 years, recalls that in the old days the. people who made cloths on handlooms in the district used to bring them to the Cloth Hall for sale on Tuesdays and Fridays.

After 1880 there was no selling of cloth on the ground floor. The building was then converted into an exchange, but cloth continued to he sold in the gallery.

When Hand Weaving Went.

When hand loom weaving was displaced by power looms, and the factory system began to develop, manufacturers ceased to send cloth to the Hall, acquiring their own town warehouses instead. Latterly, chiefly as the result of easy transport, the warehouses have been relinquished, and the cloths are shown at the mills.

In the good old days many of the biggest men in the trade could be seen at the Hall in blue and white overalls showing their products. It was the day of the personal touch.

In the old days, plain cloths were the staple manufacture, and doeskins had a great vogue. From these, in the course of time, the fancy worsted trade developed.

New Offices wanted.

The business men who rent offices in the Hall are not to be dispossessed for the time being, and will continue on a monthly tenancy. There are forty tenants who rent ninety rooms between them. Office premises in central Huddersfield are scarce, and it will be difficult for those who had to vacate the Cloth Hall to find other suitable premises at anything like the same rent.

The official in charge of the Cloth Hall is Mr. J.W. Jessop, who has been there for 24 years.