Unity Hall is back !

Revamp of the old Unity Hall, Westgate, Wakefield.'w311f435
Revamp of the old Unity Hall, Westgate, Wakefield.'w311f435

After a wait of more than 15 years, Unity Hall is finally reopening.

The Grade II-listed building, on one the city’s main gateways, opens today.

Revamp of the old Unity Hall, Westgate, Wakefield.'w311c435

Revamp of the old Unity Hall, Westgate, Wakefield.'w311c435

An official ceremony for members of the community co-operative that raised more than £4m for the large-scale refurbishment took place on Friday, before live music returns to the venue on Saturday, with a free event.

It took almost a year to complete the first phase of the transformation of the building, which first opened in 1867 as the Wakefield Co-operative Society headquarters.

And now it has a new lease of life as a music and entertainment centre.

There is a 600-seater venue in the major hall and 150-seater function room in the minor hall.

Revamp of the old Unity Hall, Westgate, Wakefield.'w311m435

Revamp of the old Unity Hall, Westgate, Wakefield.'w311m435

Dean Freeman, head programmer, said: “We’ve uncovered so many great features during the renovation work, such as floor mosaics, a fabulous roof in the main concert room and an original lift sign.

“The venue is looking fantastic and it is great to finally be at this point.”

Renamed as Unity Works, the venue also has office space, an art gallery, independent retail space and conference facilities.

However, the transformation is not yet complete.

The second phase of the project is expected to begin soon and will see the Smyth Street side of the building refurbished plus the launch of a bar and café, which is expected to open in December.

Unity Works chief executive Mark Taylor said: “Following the successful completion of the first phase of the redevelopment, and with staff and tenants now on site, we are delighted that work will begin on the second phase of the development with the refurbishment of the shop on Smyth Street.

“The Unity Works Café Bar will open its doors to the people of Wakefield in December and will be the ideal place to come for the first coffee of the day, those lunchtime get-togethers or for having a relaxing evening.”

Backstage Academy, which provides educational and training courses in the music industry, is also expected to take over part of the building.

Unity Hall will open to the public on Saturday, with local live bands and crafting activities between 10am to 4pm.

Visitors will also be able to view work from local artists in the Unity Arts gallery.

A free gig at 7pm will be headlined by Middleman and real ale fans can enjoy a pint of Dead Pigeon brewed by Ossett Brewery on special commission from Unity Works.

Unity Hall has operated under many guises since its initial opening as a co-operative, from a music hall in the 1950s to the home of punk in the late 1970s.