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West Vale Public Hall, Calderdale

Description: West Vale Public Hall

Grade: II
Date Listed: 11 March 2015
Building ID: 1418973

OS Grid Reference: SE0973521233
OS Grid Coordinates: 409745, 421237
Latitude/Longitude: 53.6875, -1.8539

Locality: Calderdale
County: Calderdale
Postcode: HX4 8EL

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Listing Text


Former mechanics' institute and town hall, 1873-4, by Horsfall, Wardle & Patchett of Halifax. Rock-faced sandstone 'bricks' with ashlar dressings, slate roof. 2-storeys plus basement. Mild Lombardic Gothic style.

Reason for Listing

West Vale Public Hall is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:* Architectural quality: it is an imposing building with a strong level of architectural detailing belying its relatively diminutive scale; presenting itself as a scaled-down version of an urban town hall with a distinguished front elevation in a mild Lombardic-Gothic style;* Interior interest: the interior retains numerous original features and incorporates a number of statement spaces and features designed to impress and convey civic pride, including a panelled former committee room, an imposing main stair, and a large first-floor public hall; * Civic identity: it is a good example of a smaller-scale civil administration building; its village location and funding dictating the unusual original dual functions of mechanics institute and town hall within a single building.


Greetland and West Vale Mechanics' Hall was erected by the Greetland and West Vale Mechanics' Hall Company Limited and was intended to serve as both a town hall and mechanics' institute. The building's corner stone was laid on 21 June 1873 by Edward Crossley, businessman and member of Halifax's prominent carpet manufacturing family, who was also mayor of Halifax in 1874-6 and 1884-5. The building, which is believed to have been designed by Horsfall, Wardle & Patchett of Halifax, cost £3000 to construct and opened on 18 May 1874, with the capital raised for its construction being derived from £1 shares.The building provided a large public hall for meetings and concerts, as well as classrooms, a library, and offices for the Greetland Local Board, Lancashire & Yorkshire Bank, and the Halifax Permanent Building Society. The Greetland and West Vale Fire Brigade was also based in the basement, which at the rear of the building presents itself as a lower ground floor level. In 1879 Anglican services were held in the hall until the construction of the Church of St John the Evangelist (by T Rushforth, Grade II) at the north-east rear of the building on Calder Street was completed in 1880. In 1882 the local Liberals opened a club in the building, with an opening ceremony attracting 700 people. In 1907 the building was sold to Greetland District Council and it subsequently passed to Elland Urban District Council, and then Calderdale Council in 1974, before being sold to private owners in the 1990s, at which point it was partly used as offices. The building remained in use until c.2012. The building has latterly been known as West Vale Public Hall.


Former mechanics' institute and town hall, 1873-4, by Horsfall, Wardle & Patchett of Halifax. Rock-faced sandstone 'bricks' with ashlar dressings, slate roof. 2-storeys plus basement. Mild Lombardic Gothic stylePLAN: the building is located on a triangular plot of land bordered by Rochdale Road (formerly Elland Road) on the south-west side, Calder Street on the north side, and Alfred Street on the east side. Abutting the building on the east side is a Baptist chapel of 1868 and a late-C19/early-C20 meeting house. The hall is aligned east-west with a front elevation facing south at an angle to Rochdale Road. Due to the site sloping steeply downwards from south to north, the rear (north) elevation has a full basement that acts as a lower ground floor level.EXTERIOR: the majority of the building's windows are sash windows with glazing bars and margin lights containing some coloured glass.Front (south) elevation: dominating the west end of the front elevation is an entrance tower with round-arched entrances in painted ashlar to its south and west faces, set underneath gablets and surmounted by trefoil finials. The entrances are flanked by carved antae; that to the south-west corner has lettering (partly covered by later paint) to the south face that reads: 'GREETLAND PUBLIC HALL & COUNCIL OFFICES'. The same lettering can also be found to the gablet on the west face, whilst the south gablet has stylised carved foliate decoration. Both entrances would originally have been open, but have since been infilled through the addition of later partly-glazed panelled doors and plain fanlights above to create an entrance vestibule. The tower has a single first-floor window on each south and west face, both with round-arched heads set underneath Gothic arches with decorative carved tympanums. To each south and west face of the stage above is a roundel containing nine smaller pierced roundels, the centre one of which is a quatrefoil. The tower has a pyramidal roof incorporating tiny gableted dormer windows with louvred openings, and surmounted by a weathervane and a small platform accessed via a ladder attached to the roof on the north side. The main section of the front elevation to the right of the tower is of 5-bays with a wide bay set to the centre underneath a raised gable incorporating a Lombard frieze and surmounted by a foliated finial. Set to the gable apex is a roundel in the same style as those to the tower. Tripartite windows exist to both floors of the centre bay; those to the ground floor have square heads, whilst those to the first floor are in the style of a Venetian window with a raised centre light, but all with round-arched heads set underneath Gothic arches with decorative carved tympanums. The window lights are separated by paired pink-granite columns with foliated capitals and plain bases in ashlar, and in front is an ornamental balcony with carved quatrefoil decoration. The two flanking outer bays on each side have single windows to both floors in the same style as those to the centre bay; the lower part of the window to the ground floor of the easternmost bay has been converted into a doorway. Sill bands and continuous hoodmoulds exist to the windows on both floor levels and also to the west return of the tower. Set just below the roof is a bracketed eaves, which is also carried through on the tower.Rear (north) elevation: the 6-bay rear elevation facing Calder Street is plainer and has a lower ground-floor level at street level due to the sloping nature of the site. The elevation consists of a main 5-bay section, the central bay of which projects forward slightly and is lit by tripartite windows on the ground and first floors in a similar style to those to the front elevation, albeit without carved tympanums to the upper floor windows and pink-granite columns. The outer bays are lit by similarly styled windows on the two upper floors. Set to the centre of the lower ground floor is a wide arched entranceway (originally access for the fire engine) with a modern roller shutter. The two bays to the right have casement windows, whilst those to the left have a blocked-up doorway (possibly a window originally) and a blocked-up window. A small cast-iron fire alarm also exists to the right. Set to the far right of the elevation behind the tower is an additional stair bay lit by a wide 2-over-2 sash window to the ground floor and a tall round-headed window set to the half-landing level above. At lower ground-floor level is a slender side light adjacent to a blocked-up doorway and another blocked-up side light.Side elevations: the side elevations are blank except for a tiny square window set high up the west elevation and a later inserted doorway with a plain overlight at lower ground floor level.INTERIOR: internally there are stone flag and floorboard floors, along with some cement floors. Some panelled doors are original, but a number have been replaced. The main entrance leads into a stair hall containing a dog-leg stair with decorative cast-iron splat balusters, a foliated cast-iron newel post, curtail step, and a wreathed handrail that leads up to the main first-floor hall. Off to the right is a doorway with partly-glazed panelled double-doors that leads to a spine corridor that runs the length of the ground floor with rooms off to each side, some with later suspended ceilings. The rooms off to the north side of the corridor are smaller and some have been modernised; the original ceiling in one of the rooms (now used as toilets) is visible and has moulded cornicing, a Jacobean-style patterned ceiling and a decorative frieze. Off to the south side of the corridor is a large room (possibly a committee room originally) with a coved ceiling and wall panelling up to picture-rail height and incorporating pilasters. At the west end of the room and incorporated into the panelling is a cartouche containing a clock, and above double doors at the east end of the room is another similarly styled cartouche. Further decorative carving exists to the north wall's panelling. Beyond the room's east doorway is a small ante room. At the eastern end of the ground floor is a secondary stair leading up to the first-floor hall and two dressing/preparation rooms, along with two toilets (sanitary ware removed) with original doors and door furniture, black and white geometric tiled floors, white glazed-tile dados with a green acanthus leaf border, and decorative ventilators. A neighbouring window has been partly converted into a doorway and an internal roller shutter inserted that cuts into one of the toilet cubicles.The main stair's first-floor landing has been partly boxed-in to create a small storage room. Off the landing to the front of the building is the first-floor tower room, which contains a kitchenette with a serving hatch in the east wall. The room's north wall has been knocked through and a later partition wall erected on the landing. Off the east side of the stair landing is a wide doorway with panelled double-doors leading into a large hall that occupies the rest of the first floor. Running around the room is a wainscotted dado and all the windows have moulded architraves at their heads linked via a decorative cornice. The hall's ceiling has deep moulded cornicing, which is also present on a series of ceiling beams supported by scrolled consoles. The original light fittings have all been removed, but the octagonal ceiling ventilators and fixings survive. At the western end of the room is a simple tiered timber balcony accessed via a straight stair flight with alternate paired and triple balusters on each step. Part of the balcony's later panelled front, in which the panels incorporate an Art Deco-style sunburst pattern, has been removed. The underside of the stair is panelled and incorporates an under-stair cupboard. When viewed from the balcony it can be seen that the hall's floorboard floor is arranged in an octagonal pattern. At the eastern end of the room is a stage, which is accessed via a short flight of steps located at its south-west corner. Attached to the east wall above the stage is a large modern metal sheet, that has possibly added to stabilise movement in the end wall. To the left of the stage is an inserted late-C20 goods lift and associated steel frame structure that rises up from the lower ground floor level and is not of special interest*. To the right of the stage is a timber stair flight leading down to a small mezzanine level behind and below the stage, which has split-level floors and was possibly originally used as a dressing/preparation area for meetings and events held in the hall. The space is divided into three areas, one of which is located underneath the stage and has a hatch access door. An enclosed stair flight against the east wall leads down to the ground floor; set to the landing are slender cast-iron stick balusters set on a diagonal and incorporating a central barley-twist section and a decorative newel post.The lower ground floor is accessed via a stair underneath the main stair and a later stair inserted at the eastern end. The northern half of the space alongside Calder Street consists of a series of spaces in part connected by aligned doorways. Two rooms at the western end retain chimneybreasts. The southern half of the space is formed of former coal holes and storage areas.* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that the aforementioned feature is not of special architectural or historic interest.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.