Hope for a piece of Leeds history

Owner Paul Harrison and English Heritage officer Craig McHugh at Dalton Mills, Keighley.
Owner Paul Harrison and English Heritage officer Craig McHugh at Dalton Mills, Keighley.
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LONG-awaited restoration of one of Leeds’ most important historic buildings is closer to reality.

A grant from English Heritage has allowed the city council to comission a survey into exactly what it will take to bring First White Cloth Hall, the 18th-century building which played a vital role in the county’s textile trade, back to life.

The hall, which has sat on the organisation’s ‘at-risk’ register, which identifies buildings and heritage sites in criticial need, for several years, has fallen into disrepair at the hands of successive owners unable to carry through their proposals for repair work.

But funding has been set aside for experts to assess how to save the 1711-built building, and how it might be brought back into use as part of the wider regeneration of Kirkgate.

Meanwhile, further restoration is set to take place at at the iconic, grade II-listed Dalton Mills, Keighley. The former textile mill was once home to the Craven family business, producing worsted yarn in the heyday of the industrial age.

Elsewhere, Halifax’s Old Lane Mill, the oldest and largest example of a steam-powered textile mill in the area, makes an addition to this year’s ‘at-risk’ register. English Heritage’s principal at-risk officer for Yorkshire Craig McHugh said: “Our textile heritage is woven through the landscape of West Yorkshire.”

“Whether it’s the great factories such as Dalton Mills, cloth trading markets like the First White Cloth Hall in Leeds or the many former textile workers cottages that give such character to many of our most picturesque towns and villages.

“We are always keen to work with owners and communities that share our belief that this inheritance needs to be passed on to future generations to enjoy and learn from.”

Figures from English Heritage show a third of Yorkshire’s at-risk sites has been removed from the 2010 register. This year, £900,000 in grants has been awarded to 67 of them.

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