York Handmade praised for its ‘unique and exciting’ brickwork on new libary

The award-winning York Handmade Brick Company has been praised for its “unique and exciting” brickwork on Halifax’s new library.

York Handmade provided 30,000 specially-manufactured bricks for the new £9 million multi-million Central Library and Archives in Halifax, which officially opened this autumn.

The contract was worth £44,000.

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

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.

Dermot Patterson of LDN explained: “York Handmade were uniquely able to offer a long format brick which harmonises beautifully with the stone used widely in the town on Halifax both in terms of shape and colouration.

“We had not used York Handmade before but were delighted to be able to specify something made in the county of Yorkshire for a Yorkshire project.

“The company’s bricks have a rich and variable handmade character which avoids the mechanically repetitive appearance of some brick facades. York Handmade were pleasant to work with and were responsive to our needs. We were delighted by the result, as were is the client, Calderdale Council,” said Mr Patterson.

Carole Knowles, libraries, museums and arts manager at Calderdale Council, commented: “The library service, including myself, are very proud of the new library building. The overall final look and feel, both internally and externally, exceeded my expectations.

“Having worked so closely on the project over the years one became rather over-familiar with the development – but the final unveiling was both exciting and inspiring. To see and hear the public’s reaction and to see it full of people meant it had finally been delivered.

“I recall testing various shades and samples of the brick against the standing church archaeology and the Piece Hall wall in a variety of weathers – even pouring a bottle of water over the sample wall (with Historic England present) to check the likely look in the rain. I am also proud to have been given a souvenir brick by York Handmade,” she added.

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 will be have been used inside, next to the exposed stone of the church walls.

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