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The Piece Hall, Halifax, West Yorkshire

Parex mortars specified for restoration of historic commercial landmark.

A combination of Parex BS 7533-compliant mortars has been used for a major public realm hard landscaping scheme carried out as part of a multi-million pound heritage conservation and transformation programme at The Piece Hall, Halifax, which was  built in the 18th century as a trading hub for the Yorkshire woollen industry.

The Georgian Piece Hall was built in 1779 and lies at the heart of the West Yorkshire town. In the bustling commercial centre, merchants bought "pieces" of woollen cloth from pre-Industrial Revolution hand loom weavers based in the surrounding countryside would sell them on for both the home market and for export all around the world.

The Piece Hall has a square footprint around an extensive courtyard which is surrounded on all sides by many small trading units where deals for cloth pieces were done. Later, the building became the town’s market and has served as a cultural and commercial centre since an initial refurbishment in the 1970s.

The Grade 1 listed Piece Hall has more recently undergone a multi-million pound conservation and transformation programme designed to create a world-class cultural, commercial, educational and visitor destination.

The Piece Hall transformation project was delivered by Calderdale Council and made possible by funding from the Council, a generous £7 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund – thanks to National Lottery players – and kind support from the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation. The construction work was carried out by Graham Construction and the design work by LDN Architects. The Piece Hall is now operated by an independent body, the newly formed charity The Piece Hall Trust.

The scheme featured extensive hard landscaping and remodelling of the open central courtyard over an area  of approximately 30,000 sq metres. The gently sloping site has been re-designed to provide an extensive public performance space with tiered seating incorporating water features.

High quality granite paving, along with granite setts and traditional sandstone was used throughout with Parex specialist mortars used for bedding, bonding and jointing the various slabs and setts throughout the central square and beyond to the various entrances on all four sides of the courtyard.

For bedding, Parex supplied a 16 tonne self-mixing silo to provide constant and consistent supplies to Parex Fine Bedding Concrete for the Graham Construction landscaping teams. The silo was located in a temporary compound just outside the Piece Hall perimeter where it could be accessed for regular replenishment by bulk deliveries. Over the course of the contract more than 700 tonnes of FBC were supplied.

The use of the silo allowed the contractors to limit deliveries to site, reduce the area required for material storage and to achieve health, safety and environmental benefits by limiting dust and eliminating packaging.

To achieve a strong bond between the paving units and the FBC, a coating of slurry applied Parex Bond Plus mortar was used to the downward facing surfaces prior to laying. Jointing of the 10mm gaps between the paving units was then carried out with a slurried application of Parex Granatech high strength jointing mortar.

For added strength on the stepped sections, all constructed in Granite, Parex Kerbfix, an extremely rapid setting polyester mortar, was used.

The overall refurbishment scheme also encompassed refurbishment and remedial work throughout The Piece Hall and lasted over two and half years.

Images Copyright of Paul White Photograph

Clients:   Calderdale Council
Main Contractor:  John Graham Construction, Leeds,  West Yorkshire
Design:   LDN Architects, Edinburgh.

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