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Kirkgate, the First White Cloth Hall, numbers 98 to 101

Subject ID:
City Centre
Subject Year:
Leeds Library & Information Services
Class number:
Kirkgate, the First White Cloth Hall, numbers 98 to 101
3rd October 1990. Colour photograph of Kirkgate, Leeds' oldest street, showing the Grade II listed, but sadly dilapidated, building which was the first White Cloth Hall to be built in Leeds. Wakefield had acquired a cloth hall in 1710 and, as a direct response, several Leeds dignitaries, including merchant clothier and local historian Ralph Thoresby, met together to plan a building in the centre of Leeds. It was designed with storerooms and other facilities so that clothiers from the outlying towns and villages could gather and trade in their undyed cloth. Thoresby gave a description of the White Cloth Hall as "a stately hall, built on pillars on arches in the form of an exchange, with a quadrangular court within". In the twentieth century it was given shop frontages at ground floor level numbering from 98 to 101 Kirkgate. On the left, number 97, just visible, is Cookshop Kitchenware and is part of a row. This row, from number 84 to 97 Kirkgate, represents the oldest surviving commercial street in Leeds. The only business still open in the White Cloth Hall is number 98, Las Vegas amusements. The remainder of the buildings are vacant and boarded up, with scaffolding above and fly posters covering the windows. In the background the top of the Corn Exchange can be seen on the right. Since this picture was taken the west wing of the White Cloth Hall has been demolished as there was some danger of collapse. Demolition revealed some of the courtyard interior including the three arches at ground floor level at the rear which are boarded up. There are plans in place for a regeneration scheme aimed at rebuilding the demolished section and restoring the rest of the building, including the key architectural features.

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