Grant For Yorkshire's Oldest Cloth Hall

  • Leeds' First White Cloth Hall Receives English Heritage Grant
  • Positive Step Towards Securing Building's Future

English Heritage have given a grant of £45,000 to the First White Cloth Hall in Leeds this week, beginning a project to investigate its condition and give a clear picture of what further works are essential to rescue this integral piece of Leeds' history.

The aim of this Project Development grant is to secure a viable future for the First White Cloth Hall. The project will include a survey of the building's condition to give an idea of costs for repair, archaeological recording and a conservation plan will be written to clearly demonstrate the building's importance. A further key part of the project is to hold a consultation with the local population and heritage groups, opening up discussions about the building's future.

The Grade II* listed building is one of the oldest surviving cloth markets in Yorkshire and its construction in 1711 was critical to the city's development as the centre of the county's textile trade. The building is in a poor condition and has been on the Heritage at Risk Register since 1999, declining in recent years with successive owners unable to carry through their proposals for repair work. English Heritage has been working with Leeds City Council and the owners for several years to help realise their plans for regeneration and the grant offered this week is the next positive step towards bringing it back into use as part of the wider revival of Kirkgate.

Craig McHugh, Heritage at Risk Principal for English Heritage in Yorkshire said:
"English Heritage are delighted that Leeds City Council have been able to secure an agreement with City Fusion to take this project forward. We're looking forward to historical discoveries being made about this fascinating site as the archaeologists get to work and to seeing fresh proposals from the design team for its future use."

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council's executive member for transport and the economy, said: "This a significant and positive step forward in the restoration of this historic building which will help this important project to progress.

We know there has been genuine concern over the future of this site and that's why we've been working hard alongside English Heritage to get things moving and bring it back into use- and this grant will help us to do just that.

Although these things take time, we are confident that through this project, we can secure sustainable new use for the building and make it a key part of the regeneration of the Kirkgate area."

In recent years part of the First White Cloth Hall deteriorated to the point where it was unsafe to enter, so emergency demolition works took place in 2010 to secure as much of the building as possible. These works revealed there was more original fabric to be restored in situ than first thought and archaeological surveys through this new English Heritage grant-aided project will further unravel the building's history, creating ideas for its future use.