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York Handmade provides 30,000 bricks for new chapter in Halifax library’s story

The award-winning York Handmade Brick Company has provided 30,000 bricks for the new multi-million Central Library and Archives in Halifax, which officially opened on Saturday September 9th.

About 30,000 specially-manufactured bricks make up the walls of the new building.

Every single brick was drawn by hand to ensure the bricks were exactly the right style, shape and colour to blend with the adjacent Grade I listed Piece Hall and the town’s many historic buildings.

Calderdale Council and LDN Architects selected bricks by the York Handmade of Alne, near Easingwold, to ensure an attractive, high-quality façade.

York Handmade has been making bricks in York for over 70 years from local Triassic mudstone clay that has been used in the area for centuries. The company’s bricks have been used in a range of prestigious locations, including The Shard in London and Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.

David Armitage, the chairman of York Handmade, said: “My family has been making bricks in Yorkshire for more than a century, so the new Central Library and Archives in Halifax means a great deal to us. We are very proud to be involved and this contract continues a special tradition.

“It was a privilege to be invited to the official opening of the new library, which is simply magnificent. When libraries are closing all over the country, it is heart-warming to see the town of Halifax opening a new one. There’s no doubt this library will be a great asset to the community.

“We have taken great care to ensure that the mix of lighter and darker colours is unique to this project so the new Central Library and Archives complements the sandstone that makes up most of the Piece Hall. The long shape of our bricks is similar to the ones used in many of Halifax’s traditional buildings,” said Mr Armitage.

The new library is designed around the remains of the Square Church and some of the new bricks have been used inside, next to the exposed stone of the church walls.

Cllr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Leader, said: “We are delighted that our new Central Library and Archives is now open for people to enjoy. This is the next stage of the remarkable transformation of Halifax town centre - the new library next to the Piece Hall, Square Chapel, Calderdale Industrial Museum and Orangebox young people’s centre adds to the vibrant cultural, heritage and learning quarter.

“The library is a stunning blend of old and new, conserving the landmark spire and rose window of the Square Church in a 21st century building with state-of-the-art facilities. The unique bricks are one example of the care and attention to detail which have gone into the project – and the result is a truly striking building.”

The official opening of the new Central Library and Archives was marked with a range of free family activities and a plaque was unveiled by leading architectural historian, writer and TV broadcaster, Dr Jonathan Foyle, in the presence of the Mayor of Calderdale, Cllr Ferman Ali.

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