Aireborough Historical Society

1841 Cloth Trade Guiseley

Cloth Trade
Date January 1841
Location Guiseley
Photo ID

"Trade of Leeds - We are happy to report that there is a steady  and rather improving demand for goods in our Cloth Halls.

But it is satisfactory to know that even in this respect the sales in the Cloth Halls do not afford any accurate criterion of the amount of business now doing.

Many of our village clothiers, particularly at Gomersal, Guiseley and neighbouring places are busily employed per order, in executing  a contract for the East India Company amounting to 20,000 pieces".

Image courtesy of the British Newspaper Archives, research by Edwy Harling


Further information by Christine Lovedale

     The centre for the trade in finished cloth from this area and surrounding districts was Leeds. Trade was originally held on Leeds Bridge until the Cloth Halls were built, on Tuesdays and Saturdays the clothiers carried their finished pieces on their heads or loaded them onto ponies for the walk into Leeds.

They would arrive by 5am to take refreshments at their favourite inn, this would be a "clothier's two pennorth" or "brigg shot" 

usually consisting of a flagon of beer, a dish of stew and a plate of boiled or roast beef.

      The market bell was rung at 6am in summer and 7am in winter to commence trade, the clothiers would stand in a line behind trestles displaying their goods, the buyers would be allowed in to make their choices.

Business was conducted quietly, on completion of sales the clothier would carry the fabric to the customer's house or transport.

All this would be done in an hour before the bell was rung to finish trade.

    Purpose built White Cloth Halls were constructed for the sale of unfinished pieces, the first was erected in Kirkgate in 1711, the second in 1755 on Meadow Lane just south of the River Aire.

Next came the prestigious White Cloth Hall and Assembly Rooms built between the Calls and Kirkgate in 1776, it cost £4,000 and had 1,210 stalls for the clothiers to sell their goods.

The construction of the railway line extension to Marsh Lane caused this hall to be deserted in favour  of the White Cloth Hall built on King Street, the North Eastern Railway Co. paid £20,000  for the building of this hall in 1868.

The present Hotel Metropole, built in 1899, is on the site, a reminder of the 4th Cloth Hall can still be seen, the cupola from the Cloth Hall is on the roof of the hotel.

     In addition a separate Coloured Cloth Hall for the sale of finished cloth was constructed, it opened in 1758, designed by John Moxon costing £5,300.

It was located to the south end of Park Row on City Square, there were 1,770 stalls for traders and the inner courtyard could hold up to 20,000 people.

It was demolished in 1898, the old Post Office in City Square was built on the site, the brass bell which regulated the sales is now kept at Armley Mills Industrial Museum.


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