Huddersfield has some of the best architecture in the UK … but it’s far more than just its buildings that makes it so unique.

Huddersfield-born architect Tomasz Romaniewicz is taking part in a project looking at the role architecture plays in enhancing a town’s spirit … and has chosen his home town as his case study.

The campaign revolves around how architects can retain a place’s Genius Loci – roughly translating to ‘The Spirit of the Place’ – while also balancing some of the huge issues facing the sector including meeting sustainability targets, the housing crisis and building safety. Accsys Technologies commissioned the campaign under its Accoya sustainable wood brand name.

Tomasz was born and brought up in Holmfirth and realises that Huddersfield has some brilliant examples of architecture which stretch far beyond its magnificent old buildings to include places like St George’s Square, the John Smith’s Stadium and Queensgate Market.

The 38-year-old, who lived in London for more than 10 years and is now associate director at national architect firm Bond Bryan which was founded in Sheffield, is fiercely proud of his home town.

“One thing you can say about northerners is that they have immense civic pride,” he said. “I met many people from Huddersfield while I was working in London and never heard one put Huddersfield down, not one.

“It was a phenomenal place to grow up and if you think about the countryside, the architecture, its famous people such as Harold Wilson and James Mason, then that’s something to have a real natural pride in.

“It still produces the best textile cloth in the world, including the most exclusive and expensive worn by world leaders and royalty.

“That upbringing in Huddersfield and the town’s spirit is with me every moment in what I do. Places go beyond bricks and mortar, they really mean something to people. Architecture is about places and places shape our society, our culture, our economic growth.

“The architect’s role is at the heart of this process and that’s what I’ve always found so appealing.”

He said that, going forward, buildings would need to be constructed from sustainable materials such as wood.

“It would mean that buildings would not only look beautiful but be fully optimised, age well and be very low to maintain throughout their lifespan,” he said.

Although Tomasz now lives in Birmingham, he has plans to return to his roots where his family still live and back to a place that’s always inspired him.

He revealed that the building he would say is Huddersfield’s greatest no longer exists – but would have been better than Halifax’s famous Piece Hall if it had survived.

Huddersfield had its own cloth exchange called Cloth Hall in the centre of the town where the Market Street Sainsbury’s store now stands – but in its day it was bigger and better than the Piece Hall.

The Cloth Hall at the end of Cloth Hall Street

The Cloth Hall. Photo courtesy: Kirklees Archive Service

Tomasz said: “Not many people will be aware that it ever existed but it was, in my opinion, Huddersfield’s greatest ever building. It was an absolutely massive cloth exchange and it’s an absolute travesty it was demolished. It was probably even bigger than the Corn Exchange in Leeds.

“Just look at the wonderful way Halifax has renovated its Piece Hall and brought it into modern-day use with the kind of big name musicians it attracts and the amount of people it brings into Halifax to boost the local economy.

“Just think what Huddersfield could have done with its Cloth Hall and what a massive, missed opportunity that has been.”

One bit did survive when Cloth Hall was demolished in 1930. The clock tower in Ravensknowle Park next to the Tolson Museum came from the demolished Cloth Hall.

The clocktower in Ravensknowle Park

Tomasz describes St George’s Square as “Huddersfield’s front room” which creates a framework for the town.

“Architecture is so much more than just buildings,” he said. “You need to think about the space around buildings but also think bigger and wider about its people, its culture, its music, sustainability and a sense of well-being.

“Places shape our society and we need to think beyond the physical and into the attitude and spirit of each place.

“The moment you walk out of the railway station you see the magnificent old buildings representing Huddersfield’s woollen trade heritage and all the aspiration and idealism that brought to the town.

“With the railway station behind you and the George Hotel – the birthplace of rugby league – on the left and the John Smith’s Stadium straight ahead a few minutes’ walk away, some of the best the town has to offer is set out before you.”

Tomasz says Huddersfield is an ideal place for young architects to see both old and new working well together, from the magnificent old traditional through to the ultra-modern university buildings which give the town a ‘wow’ factor.

He certainly believes old and new can co-exist in architectural harmony, adding: “There is room for old and new in any place and there has to be an honesty about architecture with people accepting buildings for what they were at the time they were built. Think of St Patrick’s Catholic Centre at the top of town.”

The former Queensgate Market. Photo by: Gordon Parks

Queensgate Market, which opened in 1970, has had its critics over the years but it’s a unique piece of architecture using concrete techniques from South America and now its use is being transformed again into a food hall under the Huddersfield town centre redevelopment scheme.

“It’s a very underrated building,” said Tomasz. “I think a lot of people will be surprised at how good it will look when it’s put to another use as a social venue.”

Tomasz is a Huddersfield Town season ticket holder and loves the John Smith’s Stadium which is 30 years old this year – the first game was played there in August 1994 – and inspired so many other stadiums around the UK, including the new Wembley.

“It’s a timeless piece of architecture and a massive success story for the town,” said Tomasz. “It’s role is at the heart of the community and sums up perfectly what place-making is all about. When I was a child I remember being driven past it on the school bus and thinking the scale of the structure was immense.”

To watch a three-minute video of Tomasz talking about Huddersfield click HERE

To learn more about the Spirit of the Place campaign go to

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.


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