Catalogue description Papers from the Leeds White Cloth Hall Collection.

This record is held by Leeds University Library, Special Collections

Details of MS 283
Reference: MS 283
Title: Papers from the Leeds White Cloth Hall Collection.

The papers in this collection consist largely of legal documents and correspondence relating to the building of the second, third and fourth White Cloth Halls in Leeds. Many of the documents are copies or drafts. No attempt has been made to describe the latter more closely than as 'drafts' unless 'copy' is specifically stated, because it has not always been possible to distinguish between a copy and a draft when the actual document is not available in this collection. The term 'draft', therefore, is to be understood as referring to a document which was produced for the purpose of recording one particular event, legal or otherwise, which may or may not include all the contents of the final document.


The White Cloth Hall collection also contains several bound volumes, and which consist of Assessment Books for the 19th century, and the Transfer Book covering the period c.1870-90.


The MS 283 catalogue is based on an historic inventory. The arrangement of material does not necessarily represent the original order of the archive and it is considered partly processed by an archivist. When making requests to consult, please be aware that there may be discrepancies between description and physical arrangement. The retrievable unit for this collection is file level.

Date: 1749-1897

Second White Cloth Hall. 1755-75.


Documents relating to the period before the decision to build a third White Cloth Hall, ie, pre September 1774.


Third White Cloth Hall, 1775-1868


Copies of circular letter from Shepley and Bolland, 7th December 1774, protesting against the proposed hall at Gomersal Hill Top.


Documents relating to the establishment of the third hall, 1774-75.


Documents relating to the period following the opening of the hall on 17th October 1775 - c.1776-1780.


Documents relating to the case of John Wheatley et al, (Trustees), vs Thomas Brooke, (White clothier), 1730-1782.


Documents of the 1780s and 1790s.


Registers of holders of stands, c,1780- ?


Documents c. 1800- 1822.


Business correspondence, etc, to Messrs. Hardisty and Eastburn, (Manufacturers), 1822-1824.


Documents 1829-1849.


Documents of the 1850s.


Documents relating to the Leeds White Cloth Hall and the North Eastern Railway Company, 1864-1865.


Fourth White Cloth Hall, 1868-96


Documents relating to the establishment of the fourth hall, 1865-1868.


Leeds Improvement Acts, 1872, 1877.


Documents of the 1870s - 1890s.


Documents concerning the proposed sale of the hall, 1880.


Documents concerning the lease of part of the hall for Post Office and Inland Revenue Offices, 1883-1891.


Documents concerning the sale of Leeds Coloured Cloth Hall


Documents concerning the application to Parliament for an Act to enable the trustees to sell the hall, 1887-1888.


Documents concerning the sale of the hall, 1895- 1896.


Miscellaneous material


Bound Volumes

Held by: Leeds University Library, Special Collections, not available at The National Archives
Language: English
Physical description: 32 packets and 23 volumes in 11 boxes
Access conditions:

Access to this material is unrestricted

  • Textiles
Administrative / biographical background:

Brief outline of the history of the Leeds Cloth Market to 1775


[Taken from Herbert Heaton's account printed in Thoresby Society's Miscellanea volume XXII, reprinted in Price Pamphlets, 17, Price Economics Collection].


In the 17th century, the Leeds cloth market was held on Leeds Bridge. In June 1684, it moved to Briggate and was held early every Tuesday and Saturday mornings.


By the opening of the 18th century, competition was arising from neighbouring towns, and halls for the sale of white cloth were built by Halifax and Wakefield. Lord Irwin, lord of the manor of Kirkgate-cum-Holbeck, gave active support to the erection of a hall in Leeds and provided a site in Kirkgate. It was financed by merchants and tradesmen, and opened on 22nd April 1711.


Business flourished, and it was already too small by the 1750s. In 1755, a new hall was built, financed by subscriptions from the clothiers this time, and occupying a site on a strip of land between Hunslet Lane and Meadow Lane. A few of the papers in the White Cloth Hall collection refer to this hall. [Envelope A]. About this time, too, a hall was opened in Leeds for the sale of coloured cloth, which continued until the middle of the 19th century.


By 1774, the hall was again too small and a third hall was initiated. The impetus was given this time by competition from Gomersal, which was in the thick of the white cloth area, and where in 1774 a number of merchants and local gentry built a hall to save the clothiers the worry of the 7 or 8 miles journey to Leeds; this hall survived about 30 years, although it never seriously injured Leeds.


The initiative came now from the merchants, because it was to their advantage to keep the cloth market centralised in Leeds, and they were soon joined by the clothiers, although the latter played an insignificant part. On 17th October 1775, the third White Cloth Hall in Leeds was opened, and it is at this point that the material in the White Cloth Hall collection begins to describe in greater detail the history of the White Cloth Hall in Leeds until the end of the 19th century.

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