Halifax’s Heritage Meets Modern Workspace Design

By Faye Gilling

14 March 2023
4 min read

Halifax is a northern town, nestled between Leeds and Manchester, seeping with heritage. Home to Happy Valley, birthplace of Anne Lister (most commonly known as Gentleman Jack) and architecture rich, it has bags of character that embraces its roots as a mill town.

You might be more familiar with Halifax’s most recent regeneration sites, which transformed the Piece Hall into a bustling tourist destination and live music venue, but did you know The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre was a catalyst for such projects?

From wovens to workspaces

Elsie Whiteley

The mill we now know as Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre was built in 1867, formerly known as West Grove Mill. It’s had many purposes over the years, from a steel manufacturer to worsted spinner, leather tanner to card clothing and belting; until 1973 when it became a working textile mill, manufacturing dresses and clothes under the Elsie Whiteley brand.

Elsie Whiteley was a trail blazer of the time, who started her career at the young age of 12 working as a machinist at another local mill. She started her own dressmaking businesses by the age of 27, which became so successful that by the age of 50 Elsie Whiteley’s brand manufactured from six separate mills across Halifax and sold to over 1000 retailers across the UK including John Lewis, Fenwick and Selfridge’s as well as having its own premises on Regent Street, London. Learn more about Elsie’s impressive career, here.

Elsie Whiteley

The mill was closed in 1994, after much of the UK’s manufacturing moved off- shore and shortly after it was acquired by Calderdale Council. It was in 2007, when the mill opened again as an Innovation centre purpose-built for local businesses and professionals that specialised in digital innovation. From wovens to workspaces, the Centre continues to thrive with a more diverse mix of industries calling Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre their work home.

A modern approach to working, underpinned by traditional values

The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre Open Spaces

The Mill is now home to a range of contemporary and considered workspaces that welcome all ways of work, from meeting spaces to hot desking, virtual to private offices. 19th century industry, meets 21st century design, where original stonework and architecture complement state-of-the-art technology and modern features for a perfect blend of old and new. Learn more about our modern upgrades, here.

This ethos runs through everything we do at Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre. We have a modern approach to working, underpinned by traditional values, because we know that stability is a key ingredient for resilience and growth.

In an age where remote working is common, the Centre embraces virtual solutions while ensuring that personal touch is always felt through a friendly front of house team and manned reception from 7am-7pm mon-Fri. Our meeting spaces accommodate truly virtual affairs, as well as large scale in-person conferences for up to 50 people. Flexible workspaces with deep rooted heritage.

Halifax’s Heritage and History

Our converted textile mill is just a stone’s throw from Halifax town centre, where you can further explore its heritage at sites such as:

  • The Piece Hall

The Grade I listed Piece Hall, Halifax is a rare and precious thing, an architectural and cultural phenomenon which is absolutely unique. It is the sole survivor of the great eighteenth century northern cloth halls, a class of buildings which embodied the vital and dominant importance of the trade in hand woven textiles to the pre-industrial economy of the West Riding of Yorkshire, from the Middle Ages through to the early nineteenth century.

Learn more: https://www.thepiecehall.co.uk/#3

  • Halifax Library

Located on the Square Church site next to the Piece Hall, the new Halifax Central Library & Archive blends with the remains of the church into an iconic external design and striking internal layout.

Steps lead up to the Library and to the new fourth gateway of the Piece Hall and access is also be available via a lift, taking people from Square Road to the Library and Archive entrance.

Learn more: https://www.visitcalderdale.com/see-and-do/services-and-information/halifax-central-library-archive/

  • Square Chapel

Built in 1772, Square Chapel is a beautiful red brick Georgian Chapel and one of only a handful of square churches ever built. It was designed by 16-year-old Thomas Bradley who also went on to design the stunning Piece Hall next door.

Learn more: https://squarechapel.co.uk/

If you want to experience flexible working and the buzz of a businesses centre, without the city commute and workspace rates, while feeling grounded in a considered and sympathetically restored space, Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre is a perfect new work home.

Book a tour today to explore Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre.

Written By:

Faye Gilling
Faye is the Marketing & Communications Lead at Halifax Opportunities Trust.