The people of Halifax voted with their feet as the Piece Hall, Halifax, reopened yesterday - they came to see it in their thousands!
Many, alongside visitors from the rest of Calderdale and further afield, were waiting outside the gates of the Grade I listed Georgian building to get their first look at the refurbished Piece Hall at 9.30am.
First through the gates were some of Calderdale’s youngest residents, most of them too young to remember it before it closed for £19m of work to begin three years ago.
The grown-ups followed, and people of all ages came to explore the new shops, which opened their doors at 10am when Halifax and Great Britain para-athlete Hannah Cockroft rang the restored Piece Hall bell to signal the start of trading - and a new era.
The first guests had been welcomed through the gates by Halifax Town Crier Les Cutts before BBC regional news presenter Harry Gration introduced guests on the stage, beginning with Hannah, who then left for the bell room.
Mayor of Calderdale Coun Ferman Ali, Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift, chairman of the Piece Hall Trust Roger Marsh, Ros Kerslake of the Heritage Lottery and Piece Hall chief executive Nicky Chance-Thompson all spoke about different aspects of the Piece Hall’s past, present and especially its future.
Mr Marsh said: “This is all about making sure the Piece Hall is an iconic asset that is globally recognised and draws people in from across the world.”
As the trading bell rang, businesses all opened their doors at once - and echo of when the 18th century merchants did the same in a frenetic two hour spell each Saturday morning after the hall opened in 1779.
Business was frenetic yesterday too, as visitors packed the shops, heritage spaces and exhibitions, the sun holding firm to encourage people to take their time and re-appearing again after a thunderstorm.
By the time noon was approaching, Piece Hall security team staff were already helping keep the flows of people in, out and around the building moving, while hundreds of others took the opportunity to relax in the new, spacious square.
With the hall open until 11pm, and added entertainment in the form of brass bands and other musical entertainment throughout, many more got the chance to look around before Yorkshire Day is out.