1,000-Yr-Old Oak Timbers Discovered In The First Cloth Hall!

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Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E. info@burflex.co.uk

1,000-Yr-Old Oak Timbers Discovered In The First Cloth Hall!

1,000-Yr-Old Oak Timbers Discovered In The First Cloth Hall!

The First White Cloth Hall in Leeds city centre is one of the most significant historical buildings to be found here, a Grade II listed site on Kirkgate (also the oldest street in Leeds) that was built in 1711 for the sale of undyed cloth.

It has been on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register since 1999 but contractors have been working on its renewal since the spring of 2019, according to the Yorkshire Post – and now the team have just discovered old oak timbers they believe could be up to 1,000 years old.

Developer Rushbond’s plans for the site include rebuilding the west wing and constructing a large assembly room. The public courtyard is due to be enclosed, with a new cube linking the building to the Corn Exchange. The hope is that it will then be leased to a cultural business, retail store or leisure operator.

The analysis has found that whilst there are trusses that date to the original construction of First White Cloth Hall (FWCH) in 1710-11, there were others that could potentially be traced back to the mid-14th century, much earlier than FWCH’s construction – a highly significant discovery,”conservation architect Grant Prescott said.

He went on to explain that the timber’s vernacular nature can be seen in its hand-sawn undulating forms and, because of this, the utmost care was taken in ensuring that the wood has been rescued and incorporated in the scheme.

The trusses do not perform structural functions because of the amount of decay but once they’re part of the finished building, they will “provide a fascinating insight into the remarkable story of First White Cloth Hall”.

These aren’t the first treasures that the Rushbond team have found on the site, however. Last year, they discovered a pit, sump and keystone that were several hundred years old.

The building itself fell out of use as a cloth trading exchange for merchants when the Second was built in Holbeck as its replacement.

It served its purpose for 20 years before the far grander Third White Cloth Hall opened on Crown Lane. This was then partially demolished to make way for the North Eastern Railway, with a Fourth White Cloth Hall built on King Street instead.

This building wasn’t used particularly heavily because of a decline in the cloth trade and it was later demolished in 1895, with the Hotel Metropole built on the site instead.

Other projects that the Rushbond team have worked on include the transformation of Greenhill Fold in Upper Wortley, with the Grade II listed former school turned into 13 two and three-bed loft-style houses. In addition, 36 contemporary new homes are being built within the grounds of the school.

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