An educational partnership with The Piece Hall

01 May 2018 By Nicky Chance-Thompson, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall

CEO Nicky Chance Thompson from The Piece Hall

The Piece Hall Trust is proud to be partnering with our friends at YPO who have been hugely supportive of our very valuable education programme, working with schools to teach youngsters about the fascinating heritage of The Piece Hall in Halifax.

Originally built for the trading of ‘pieces’ of cloth and dating back to 1779, the monumental Grade I listed structure is the only surviving intact cloth hall in the UK, and one of only a handful in Europe. It is an iconic symbol of the very important role played by Georgian Halifax at the booming centre of the world’s woollen trade. 

The Piece Hall has recently been reimagined for the 21st century following a multi-million-pound transformation led by Calderdale Council and supported by a £7m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Now fully operated by a private Trust set up in 2014, The Piece Hall is fast establishing itself as a world-class heritage and cultural visitor destination which has attracted over 1.6m visitors in eight short months. Our newly established heritage and learning programme is key to ensure that the rich heritage of The Piece Hall is celebrated and fully understood and that the building is ‘owned’ by the next generation.  We look for innovative and creative ways to bring history to life through a range of ‘hands on’ activities from school visits to drop in family workshops.

To help us achieve this, YPO have kindly donated all the equipment for our classroom-style learning studio, which has hosted visits from nearly 1,000 school children since September 2017. Our dedicated heritage and learning team have worked with teachers to create engaging school workshops linking The Piece Hall’s fascinating past with the curriculum.  From cloth hunts and shape safaris for early years groups to workshops exploring STEM, history and art and design through learning about the various stages of the cloth making process, poetry workshops and much more! We are pleased to offer affordable and accessible ways to visit, from self-guided tours to full day workshops.

As well school visits, over 8,000 children have engaged in informal family learning, from live interpretation actors to crafts and trails, 500 adults have enjoyed adult learning workshops and nearly 2,000 people have experienced a guided heritage tour led by one of our amazing trained volunteers. All in our first eight months!

And finally, we are especially excited this year to be hosting The Big Sing on Friday 25 May, which will see a thousand-voice choir made up of children from over 20 Calderdale schools performing original songs which they have written themselves, inspired by the Piece Hall’s heritage, in an epic outdoor concert.

We are partnering with Calderdale Music Trust and Performing Arts etc to recreate this historic event that took place regularly between 1831 and 1890 when thousands of local Sunday School children would come together in The Piece Hall over Whitsuntide for The Big Sing. It's been recorded that up to 34,000 people would pack the vast courtyard for this popular event and celebration of song.  We won’t quite have that number of people (due to modern day health and safety!) but 4,000 tickets are available for people who want to witness history being recreated, watching an event that hasn’t been staged here for well over 100 years.  It’s a bit of a love story to The Piece Hall and all that it represents, and if the depth of emotion that the recent ‘Calderland’ opera inspired in so many in the Borough materialises - I am going to ensure that I have my tissues at the ready!

I can’t wait to see more children and their families enjoy The Piece Hall and learn to treasure one of the nation’s most iconic buildings, based right here in West Yorkshire.

I can’t thank YPO enough for all their support.

For more information about school visits or tickets for The Big Sing please visit www.thepiecehall.co.uk or call 01422 525217. 
Categories: YPO

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