Halifax Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Halifax

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    Triangle Cricket Club

    by rosata Written Sep 3, 2013
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    I visited the Cricket Club on the last day of the Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival as part of an organised VT meeting to await the arrival of the rush cart at the end of its route.

    We had a lovely afternoon tea and spent a pleasant afternoon watching the festivities at Grassy Bottom.

    It was very well organised and parking was available at the far end of the cricket pitch.

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    Wainhouse Tower

    by Gillybob Written Sep 29, 2012

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    The square base
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    This folly is located in the parish of King Cross on the southwest side of Halifax. It is the tallest structure in Calderdale and can be seen from miles around; at 275 feet, is is the tallest folly in the world.

    Design by architect Isaac Booth, it was erected between 1871 and 1875. The main shaft is octagonal in shape and has a square base, 403 stairs lead to the first of two viewing platforms.

    It was originally designed as a chimney to serve John Edward Wainhouse's dye works. The height of the chimney was such to satisfy the Smoke Abatement Act of 1870 which required that a tall chimney be built to carry smoke out of the valleys in which the factories were built. Wainhouse Tower was an elaborate build to satisfy John Edward Wainhouse's desire that it be an object of beauty.

    The dye works were sold to the works manager in 1875 but he refused to pay the cost of buidling the chimney, so Wainhouse kept the tower for himself and used it as an observatory. During the building, Wainhouse had a dispute with Booth, who was replaced by local architect Richard Swarbrick, to whom the elaborate galleries and corona dome at the top are attributed.

    The tower was completed on 9th September 1875, at a cost of £14,000.

    In 2006, Wainhouse Tower was forced to shut due to safety problems. Works to repair the tower began in July 2008, taking some five months to complete. As part of the restoration, the top section of the tower was partly dismantled and rebuilt, with decorative sections and part of the main shaft repointed, missing stone finials replaced, the drainage system improved, corroded ironwork replaced and cracks at the base of the tower fixed. The tower re-opened to the general public on 4 May 2009 with the restoration works costing £400,000.

    The tower is open to the public on bank holidays.

    ADMISSION :
    Adults - £2.00
    Children - £1.50
    Family - £5.00

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    The Halifax Gibbet

    by toonsarah Updated Sep 19, 2012

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    I have always imagined that a gibbet would be found high on a windswept moor, not, as here, in the centre of a city surrounded by terrace housing! I also always think of a gibbet as a noose, swinging mournfully in the wind, but the one here in Halifax is a guillotine.

    I first saw it as a photo on the cover of the small leaflet Ricky52 had prepared for all of us attending the Rushbearing Meet. Inside he had reproduced a poem about it (see below) and listed all those to have perished here, with the amusing addition for each of us of our own name – my crime, according to him, was to be a “wicked temptress” (not sure what gave him that idea!)

    But on a serious note ... the gibbet dates back to the 16th century (although this is a reproduction) and is thought to have been installed to provide an alternative to beheading by axe or sword. In this part of the country decapitation was the usual method of punishment for any thief caught with stolen goods to the value of 13½d or more, or who confessed to having stolen goods of at least that value. Indeed, it was a common punishment all over the country, but Halifax was unusual in two respects: using this guillotine-like machine (which appears to have been unique in the country), and continuing to decapitate petty criminals as late as the mid-17th century. The Halifax Gibbet Law, as it was known, read:

    “If a felon be taken within their liberty or precincts of the said forest [the Forest of Hardwick], either handhabend [caught with the stolen goods in his hand or in the act of stealing], backberand [caught carrying stolen goods on his back], or confessand [having confessed to the crime] cloth or any other commodity to the value of 13½d, that they shall after three market days or meeting days within the town of Halifax after such his apprehension, and being condemned he shall be taken to the gibbet and there have his head cut off from his body.”

    Audience participation was even encouraged. According to Holinshead's Chronicle, 1587, the axe was set in motion by the removal of a pin, to which a long rope was attached:
    "Every man there present doth take hold of the rope or putteth forth his arm so near to the same as he can get in token that he is willing to see justice executed, and pulling out the pin in this manner the head-block wherein the axe is fashioned doth fall down with such violence that if the neck of the transgressor were as big as a bull it should be cut in sunder and roll from the body by an huge distance. If it be so that the offender be apprehended for an ox, sheep or kine, or any such cattle, the self beast, or other of its kind shall have the end of the rope tied into them so that they being driven to draw out the pin whereby the offender is executed."

    But despite this apparent enthusiasm for personal participation, by 1650 public opinion considered beheading to be an excessively severe punishment for petty theft and use of the gibbet was forbidden by Oliver Cromwell. The structure was dismantled, but in the mid 19th century the stone base was rediscovered and preserved, and in 1974 this replica was erected on the site (by the way, I love the way that Wikipedia specifies that this is “a non-working replica”!)

    The earliest known record of punishment by decapitation in Halifax was of John of Dalton in 1286, but official records were not maintained until the parish registers began in 1538. Between then and 1650 56 men and women are recorded as having been decapitated. The Halifax Gibbet's final victims were Abraham Wilkinson and Anthony Mitchell – the former had been found guilty of stealing 16 yards (15 m) of cloth, 9 yards of which were found in his possession, and the latter of stealing and selling two horses. The pair were found guilty and executed on the same day, 30th April 1650. The gibbet was never used again.

    But harsh though the law was, there was one way of escaping your fate if convicted. The gibbet was about 500 yards (460 m) from the boundary of the area in which the law applied, the Forest of Hardwick, and if the condemned person succeeded in withdrawong their head before the blade fell, and escaping from the forest, he could not legally be brought back to face his punishment. It is known that at least two men succeeded in cheating the executioner in that way: a man named Dinnis and another called John Lacy. Dinnis was never seen in Halifax again, but Lacy rather rashly decided to return to the town seven years after escaping, assuming that his crime had long since been forgotten. He was wrong - he was apprehended and finally executed in 1623.

    The gibbet, and Halifax’s harsh approach to the punishment of thieves, led the late 16th century poet John Taylor to write his Beggar's Litany: "From Hell, Hull, and Halifax, Good Lord, deliver us!" the Hell of the title is self explanatory, Hull was where prisoners were often sent, and Halifax was the place where you might lose your head.

    “There is a Proverbe, and a prayer withall,
    That we may not to these strange places fall,
    From Hull, from Halifax, from Hell, ‘tis thus,
    From all these three, Good Lord deliver us.
    This praying proverb’s meaning to set down,
    Men do not wish deliverance from the Town:
    The towns named Kingston, Hull’s furious River:
    And from Hull’s dangers, I say Lord deliver.
    At Halifax, the law so sharp doth deal,
    That whoso more than 13 Pence doth steal,
    They have a jyn* that wondrous quick and well,
    Sends thieves all headless unto Heav’n or Hell.
    From Hell each man says, Lord deliver me,
    Because from Hell can no redemption be:
    Men may escape from Hull and Halifax,
    But sure in Hell there is a heavier tax,
    Let each one for themselves in this agree,
    And pray, from Hell good Lord deliver me.”

    * jyn or gin, is an old abbreviation for engine, and was commonly used for any machinery

    If you’re following the weekend in chronological order, click here for my next tip, the next stop on our “mystery tour”

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    The Wainhouse Tower

    by toonsarah Written Sep 19, 2012

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    The Wainhouse Tower from below
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    I had first noticed the Wainhouse Tower as we drove out of Halifax on the Saturday morning, heading for the Little Valley Brewery (see my “Off the beaten path” tip). Ricky explained that it had been built as a factory chimney but never used as such, and had been turned into a folly by the owner. When I asked, casually, if it was possible to go up, he replied, “Only on Bank Holidays”. What he failed to add was that it is possible to arrange to go up on other days by appointment, and he had done just that – this was to be our “mystery” destination the next morning!

    The tower was designed by architect Isaac Booth as a chimney to serve the dye works owned by John Edward Wainhouse, and built between 1871-1875. The Smoke Abatement Act of 1870 made it necessary for the factory to have a tall chimney that would carry smoke out of the valleys in which it was built. But when Wainhouse sold the factory, just before the chimney had been completed, the new owner refused to pay the cost of building it, so Wainhouse kept it for himself to use as an observatory. Booth left (after an argument about the construction) and another local architect, Richard Swarbrick Dugale, took over, adding the elaborate galleries and corona dome at the top. The tower was completed on 9th September 1875, at a cost of £14,000.

    So, I had asked if it was possible to go up the tower. Presented now with the opportunity to do so, it didn’t look like such a great idea! But there were windows to be seen not too far up so I decided to climb at least above the tree line to see the views. This I did, and took a few photos (though with some difficulty as a wire safety mesh covers the windows). Rested, I decided to go a bit further ... and a bit further. Just as I was wondering whether enough was enough and I should turn back, I started to hear voices above me and realised I was within reach of the top. Another couple of twists of the spiral staircase, and I had made it! And despite the drizzle which limited visibility, it was worth it – as much for the satisfaction of having made the climb as for the views over Halifax and the surrounding countryside.

    Later, I was amazed to read in Wikipedia that this is the tallest folly in the world! It stands 275 feet (84 metres) high. Wikipedia says that there are 403 steps, whereas we were told by the helpful caretaker who had opened up for us that it was 369. I had meant to count on my way down, but lost track, so I can’t say which figure is correct – but whichever it is, that’s a lot of stairs! Still, I made it up, and if I can, so should many others, as I’m not especially fit. The steps are even and not too high, though the space between the outer and inner walls of the tower, in which they sit, is not wide. If you suffer from claustrophobia, this may not be for you; likewise of course if you have a vertigo problem. But if you can make it, do, as like me you will probably find the experience rewarding.

    It costs £2.00 for adults, £1.50 for children, or £5.00 for a family ticket. Days and times of opening are given on the website (below).

    If you’re following the weekend in chronological order, click here for my next tip, the Norland Scarecrows.

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    The Gibbet

    by spidermiss Updated Sep 14, 2012

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    The gibbet, Halifax
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    We stopped at the Gibbet in Halifax before we had embarked on our mystery tour. The use of Gibbet went back as far as the 13th Century and use continued until the 17th Century when the practice was abandoned nationwide.

    It was interesting to learn this execution method was used before the French guillotine during the French Revolution. Dr Guillotine did his research on this methods in Halifax beforehand.

    It used to be situated at the junction of Gibbet Street and Cow Green but subsequently in a square by Gibbet Street with a non-working replica (which has an original blade casting) since 1974.

    Halifax had a reputation for its gibbet law and known for it's famous litany of the beggar, 'From Hell, Hull and Halifax, Good Lord deliver us' which refers to the gibbet law:

    "At Halifax, the Law so sharpe doth deale,
    That whoso more than thirteen pence doth steale,
    They have a jyn [engine] that wondrous quicke and well
    Sends Thieves all headless unto Heav'n or Hell".

    "At Halifax, the Law so sharpe doth deale,
    That whoso more than thirteen pence doth steale,
    They have a jyn [engine] that wondrous quicke and well
    Sends Thieves all headless unto Heav'n or Hell".

    (Source: Simpson, 2008, http://www.calderdale-online.org/community/life/life12.html (accessed 09.09.2012)

    53 people were executed by the Halifax Gibbet, according to official figures, between 1541 and 1650 and these include the likes of John Lacey who escaped execution the first time round!

    Please click onto this link for further information about the history of the gibbet.

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    The Royal Oak Pub- Now Dirty Dick's!!

    by suvanki Updated Sep 14, 2012

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    Royal Oak pub Halifax - Now Dirty Dicks
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    I was quite fascinated by this old Grade 2 listed pub from the outside. I poked my nose inside, but didn't stay for a drink - There's always a next time!

    Not sure of the original date of construction, of this former coaching Inn, but it was at least from before 1822. In this year the Landlady was a Widow Parker! 7 years later, Sara Parker took over- either her sister or daughter (or not a relation!)

    The Royal Oak was rebuilt in 1931 (Having been demolished in 1929) for Ramsdens Brewery by Jackson and Fox. Wooden materials from the defunct battleship -HMS Newcastle (built 1860) were utilised in its construction!
    Two of the exterior corbels and door jamb date from 1931, worked by Harry Percy Jackson. The Gents urinals were manufactured by Oates & Green, which are famous world wide apparently

    I particularly liked the brick work -(the late afternoon sun made a rare appearance and warmed the tone of the clay bricks), the mock tudor style timbers and the Oak tree, acorns etc decorating the outside. Also a dark wood panel near the entrance with carvings of trains etc. (pic 4) (which I now understand is part of the ships beam from the shipwrecked HMS Newcastle)

    Today the pub holds live music sessions in its upstairs room under the name of Dog House. The first Friday of every month it features three acts performing live.

    For the history of Dog House info on bands booked to play, and shop for t-shirts etc.

    UPDATE March 2012
    Wandering around Halifax with Phil, I recognised this pub, but not the pub sign, and name - Dirty Dick's! Hmmmm..........Was this now a 'Fun/theme bar'? Well, I wanted to show Phil the timbered outside, when we spotted the blackboard mentioning Real Ales - we decided to give it a try - and I'm glad that we did!

    A well stocked bar with 8 guest hand pulled Real Ales, friendly staff and a relaxing atmosphere.
    Apparently the full title of the pub is Dirty Dicks Food and Ale Emporium - Sadly we'd already eaten, (I wish that we'd known about the food here first) as the piled plates looked very appetising, and the diners all cleared their plates! We settled for a pint of Real Ale instead.
    A wide selection of beers, lagers and cider - many from local breweries/micro-brewers, as well as European brews.
    Very reasonably priced too - from around £2 a pint.

    A mix of clientele - Saturday afternoon - mainly 30+ - single Real Ale drinkers, bar hugging, couples, and friends, drinking and/ or eating in the seating areas.

    By the entrance, is a standing area with wooden barrel tables, the main room, with bar extends into the window area, with tables and chairs and open fireplace.(pic 2) From here is another smaller room.

    A place for relaxing with a pint and a newspaper or a chat.

    I got chatting to one of the friendly bar staff, who explained that the pub had re-opened about 9 months ago, after a 'clean up' - both of the building, and past clientele - apparently, The Royal Oak had a reputation as being a 'bit of a druggy pub', but is now gaining a reputation as a Good Real Ale pub.
    Their motto is "You get the right people behind the bar,and You'll get the right people on the other side" Aparently it's popular with members from Aqua-robics classes, at the swimming pool opposite, Rugby/football fans and other groups.

    There is a policy of No TV or entertainment - The doghouse is no longer in operation here.

    Since it's opening, Dirty Dick's has already won 2 awards - from Craft Brewer and CAMRA - 'Pub of the Season' .

    Mr Garvey is no stranger to awards - In 2004, he was voted Milkman of the Year (Out of 10,000 entrants), and the following year, Citizen of the Month, for his help in reporting suspicious activity, spotted during his milk round, leading to arrests!

    The owner/Landlord Sean Garvey and his partner have 2 other pubs in the area - The New Inn at Denholme (Also a 'pub of the Season') and Albion in Greengates - Which form the small chain of Garvey Taverns.

    During our visit, he seemed to be very much 'front of house' joining in the banter with customers and staff.

    Well worth a visit -Will certainly be back here in September, if not before ....

    It's becoming part of the Halifax Real Ale Trail Click here for a 5 mile/5 pub walk starting at Dirty Dicks

    Oh, and Dirty Dick? The nickname of Richard Lynn - Captain of HMS Newcastle !!!!!

    UPDATE Sept 2012 - Vters arriving in Halifax were eager for food, so I thought that would be a good place to eat, having good food, Ale and historical interest.
    I hadn't got my bearings, and we had a few stops and starts, but found it. Unfortunately, food is only served until 14.00, so we missed out - and when we'd managed to get seating for us all too.
    A local recommended Wetherspoons.
    Ah well - will know better next time. At least we had a chance to glimpse this interesting inn.

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    DON'T LOOSE YOUR HEAD!!!!

    by alyf1961 Written Sep 10, 2012

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    Halifax Gibbet dates back to the 13th Century with the earliest recording of it being in 1280. There were many Gibbets in Yorkshire but the one at Halifax was used up until the 17th Century long after people had abandoned them elsewhere.
    The Halifax Gibbet was in use around 600 years before the French Guillotine when it is said Dr Joseph Guillotine visited Halifax in search of way to behead people during the French Revolution.
    The Gibbet that stands today is a replica but the original blade is on show at the Bankfield Museum.
    Official records show that between 1541 and 1650 53 people lost their heads to the Gibbet. The Gibbet law stated that if anybody escaped the blade could cross the Hebble brook and they would be free.
    John Lacey escaped execution in 1617 and ran away across the brook, He came back seven years later only to be remembered and executed at the Gibbet. There is a pub “the running man” named in his honour in Pellon Lane.

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    VICTORIA HALL, HALIFAX TOWN HALL

    by alyf1961 Written Sep 10, 2012

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    Victoria Hall is a beautiful chamber within Halifax town hall. The floor, made of stone has a wonderful coat of arms tiled in the centre. This coat of arms is the first official coat of arms for the city authorized by the College of Heralds in 1948. It was incorporated into the stone floor in 1963 to celebrate the centenary of the Town Hall.
    The ceiling consists of twelve panels of stained glass with a beautiful blue dome which let through natural light from the roof.
    A chair made for the Prince of Wales (later to become King Edward VII) for the opening of the Town Hall in 1863 has pride of place in the hall along with four busts of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Albert Edward Prince of Wales and his wife Alexandra.

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    HALIFAX TOWN HALL

    by alyf1961 Updated Sep 10, 2012

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    I was lucky enough to have a free guided tour of Halifax town hall in September 2012.
    A magnificent town hall beautifully restored.
    The Town Hall was opened on the 4th August 1863 by HRH The Prince of Wales, Edward who went on to become King Edward VII

    Halifax town hall is a grade II listed building. It was designed by Charles Barry who also built the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) in London. Barry died before the Town Hall was built. His son Edward Middleton Barry built the beautiful building with the foundation stone being laid in 1861. The opening was on 4th August 1863 by the Prince of Wales who was to become King Edward VII. Edward opened the Town Hall instead of his mother Queen Victoria because she had retired from public life following the death of her husband Prince Albert in 1861.
    The Town hall was used for filming “Room at the Top” in 1958.
    The basement of the hall was a police station up until 1900. It has also been a control room during the war it now holds a strong room and a staff canteen.

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    Wainhouse Tower

    by spidermiss Updated Sep 9, 2012

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    Wainhouse Tower, Kings Cross, Halifax
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    As part of the mystery tour on the VT Halifax Meet in 2012 Ricky made special arrangements for all of us to visit and climb up Wainhouse Tower (which is 253ft tall and 403 steps in total). For a long time I always wanted to climb up Wainhouse Tower whenever I passed it on my way to visit family who use to live in the area. In all it was a pleasant surprise when I learnt we will do it!

    Wainhouse Tower was built in 1875 by John Edward Wainhouse, a local business man, and it was designed by Isaac Booth (lower section) and Richard Dugdale (upper section). The purpose of the tower was to control the smoke produced from Washer Lane Dyeworks (which Wainhouse owned) which caused the pollution problems. Wainhouse wanted a chimney up in the hills to combat this and the factory's smoke to be connected by an underground flue (somehow this never materialised and was viewed as a folly on the hill top). The architectural design suggested that he appreciated architecture. After Wainhouse's death the tower was subsequently bought by the Council in the early 20th Century. Today Wainhouse Tower opened to visitors on open days (please click onto this link for further information) where they, like us, have an opportunity to climb up the tower and enjoying the Calderdale views.

    The climb up to the tower's first viewing platform is demanding and I felt pretty claustrophobic in the tower. There are spaces by the window where you can take breaks but the staircase is narrow. However completing the climb was well worth it for the views from the viewing platform.

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    Eureka!

    by spidermiss Updated Sep 9, 2012

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    Eureka! Halifax (Taken in September 2012)

    I visited Eureka with a family friend's child in 1994. It's a museum designed especially for children to explore more about themselves and the world they live in. There is a number of interactive galleries where children can enjoy and have fun learning! There is also an outdoor play area with a large sand pit which is popular during the sunny weather! Please note the attraction gets very busy during the school term (with school parties) and the school holidays (family days out)!

    I enjoyed visiting the museum although you get a lot more out of it if you have children with you. There aren't any plans for a return visit at present.

    Please check the website for further information including times of opening and prices.

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    Wainhouse Tower - A folly!

    by suvanki Written Sep 3, 2012

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    Wainhouse Tower
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    This landmark and icon of Halifax can be seen for miles around!
    Wainhouse Tower is sometimes known as Wainhouses Folly, and is recognised as the tallest folly in the world!
    Having visited Halifax a few times over the recent years, I'd been quite curious about this Victorian tower, and realising that you can climb it, vowed to do this one day.

    During Ricky52's 2012 'Rushbearing and Scarecrows' meet, he'd oh so casually pointed it out, over the rooftops, on Friday night when it was illuminated. Then on the Saturday, when we drove past, mentioned that it was only open on Bank Holidays.

    Sunday morning, after visiting the Gibbet, we headed off in convoy....... and it wasn't too long before I realised what our 'mystery item' was ...... yes, Ricky had arranged for the tower to be opened up, especially for our group!

    A few of us set off upwards, climbing the narrow spiral staircase, which consisted of 369 (or 403, as some articles state) steps! No, I didn't count them, as I was busy concentrating on 'keeping going'!
    For anyone with vertigo/ mobility/breathing problems, this would be quite a challenge. Also it can be slightly claustrophobic. Although I'm mildly claustrophobic, I didn't find this climb too bad, there are narrow 'windows' at regular intervals, though it's not so easy to return to the bottom, if people are ascending - 'passing places' are quite shallow. One of our party had some difficulty with the steps, as they were shorter than his feet.

    The stone staircase encircles a red brick chimney stack, while the outer walls were constructed from locally quarried stone.

    At the top,(well the first viewing gallery) the climb was worth it for the views over Calderdale, including Halifax, Sorby Bridge and Norland, where we visited during our weekend.
    The tower is the tallest structure in Calderdale, standing at 275 feet (84 m), from its square base.
    The upper gallery and steps are closed. Presumably, these aren't structurally safe.

    Originally, it was intended as a chimney, to divert smoke from the Washer Lane Dyeworks, that were inherited by John Edward Wainhouse, following the death of his uncle.
    Surprisingly, Parliament had passed the Smoke Abatement Acts, where chimneys had to be constructed to a certain height to clear the valley of smoke.

    The chimney was constructed between 1871-1875 to the design of the architect Isaac Booth. Wainhouse and Booth fell out during this project, and Richard Swarbrick Dugdale, (Booths Assistant), was employed to add the ornate upper galleries and domed top.

    So, this wasn't just any old chimney, Wainhouse wanted it to be pleasing to the eye as well as serving it's purpose. It was also 'to get one over' his neighbour - Sir Henry Edwards.

    It had been Edwards complaint about the smoke from the works, that had resulted in the construction of the chimney. His later boast that ' From no house on the hillside, could anyone get a view of his private gardens of his Pye Nest estate' provoked Wainhouse to prove him wrong. Isaac Booth, was also Edwards architect! Booth eventually resigned due to the feuding 'masters', where his loyalties were often 'tested'

    However, before the tower was completed, Wainhouse sold the dye factory to his works manager, who refused to pay for the completion of the chimney. Wainhouse therefore kept the structure, using it as an observatory for his own use. So it was never used as a Chimney.

    Wainhouse died in July 1883 and the Tower was offered for sale by auction and there were plans to demolish it in 1893. For some reason, this was overturned, and in 1894, the tower was leased to Joe Brook Carrier, who opened the tower to the public, for viewing the surrounding countryside.

    Since then, the tower has had several owners and purposes - A observation tower during WW2, a radio ariel, and the base was a hen coop for a while!

    In 1918, it was purchased, by public subscription, by Halifax Corporation, then a year later Halifax Council took over ownership, which remains today.
    In 1954 it was granted Grade11 listed protective status.

    During 2006-08, the tower was closed forrepair/restoration work
    Blue LED lights were added to the cupola, so that the tower would provide a spectacular landmark at night. Orange and green lights had been installed previously.

    It continues to open to the public on certain Bank Holidays and other days such as Fathers Day (See web site for dates/times and cost) Remember your binoculars and camera!

    Apparently you can purchase a certificate for a few pence, to commemorate your climb.

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    The Halifax Gibbet

    by suvanki Updated Sep 3, 2012

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    Scoobydoofast awaits the blade!
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    From Hell, Hull and Halifax, Good Lord Deliver us...

    Hell is self explanatory, Hull is where prisoners were often sent, and Halifax was the place where you could lose your head!

    THE HALIFAX GIBBET

    “There is a Proverbe, and a prayer withall,
    That we may not to these strange places fall,
    From Hull, from Halifax, from Hell, ‘tis thus,
    From all these three, Good Lord deliver us.
    This praying proverb’s meaning to set down,
    Men do not wish deliverance from the Town:
    The towns named Kingston, Hull’s furious River:
    And from Hull’s dangers, I say Lord deliver.
    At Halifax, the law so sharp doth deal,
    That whoso more than 13 Pence doth steal,
    They have a jyn* that wondrous quick and well,
    Sends thieves all headless unto Heav’n or Hell.
    From Hell each man says, Lord deliver me,
    Because from Hell can no redemption be:
    Men may escape from Hull and Halifax,
    But sure in Hell there is a heavier tax,
    Let each one for themselves in this agree,
    And pray, from Hell good Lord deliver me.”

    From the Works of John Taylor -The Water Poet, who wrote from 1612 to 1653.
    * jin or gin, an old abbreviation for engine.

    The first visit of our weekend was to The Halifax Gibbet, located on Gibbet Street! I was expecting to see a cage, suspended from a pole (in Sheffield, near to my home is a pub called the Noose and Gibbet, with a gibbet containing a figure representing Spencer Broughton - Sheffields answer to Dick Turpin) Link, but instead found this to be a wooden guilitine.

    John of Dalton is the first recorded citizen to be beheaded on Halifaxs' Gibbet in 1286., under the Halifax Gibbet Law.
    The common reason for meeting your end this way, was for stealing woolen cloth! In those days, cloth making was a cottage industry, with the pieces (hence The Piece Hall, where cloth was traded) hanging on frames to dry in the open air. This cloth was 'of value to the realm' hence the death penalty ensued.

    Anyone found guilty of either- hand-habend “having his hand in, or being found in the very act of stealing cloth.” or back-berand “ having the thing stolen, either upon his back, or somewhere else about him and carrying it away..” or confessand - having confessed to the crime, concerning the theft of cloth or other goods of the value of thirteen-pence half penny. The value was decided by 4 police constables, who were summoned by the 'arresting officer' to form a jury. The sentance could only be passed after the prisoner had confessed- It can be presumed that this was usually through torture. Those found innocent of the crime were released 'after paying their fees' - or in other words, they bought their freedom!

    Within the legal boundaries of Halifax, those that were sentenced to execution by the Gibbets blade, were returned to their prison, to wait their final end.This was carried out after 3 Market Days or 3 Meeting Days had passed. Usually these were held mid week, cloth was sold on Saturdays in the Piece Hall. At each of the Market Days, the prisoner would be let out ....to sit in the Town stocks, on public view

    There were a couple of methods of escape from being be-headed

    One way was to somehow delay the drop of the axe, at which point if the prisoner was quick enough, he (or she-about half a dozen females were beheaded here) could make a run for it. If he reached the boundary of liberty, he couldn't be re-captured, but if he ever re-entered the boundary, he would be be-headed. If the prisoner had thought about this-to the north, the boundary was only 600 paces, to the South it was about a mile away, and to the West about 10 miles. Anyone getting away would therefore not even consider returning to Halifax would they? - Well for Some reason, one John Lacy, escaped the blade, and spent 7 years of freedom, until he returned to Halifax, where he was recognised, and beheaded in 1623.
    The other way was to refuse to confess...as long as the goods weren't found in their possession, they were acquitted - Remember that most confessions were obtained by foul means, and being God fearing people, the act of perjury was considered more of a sin, and more frightening than the prospect of death. Perjury was a sin against God- who was the Ultimate Judge on Mans Fate - the judge of whether he went to Heaven or Hell!

    The last recorded victims in 1650 were Anthony Mitchell and John Wilkinson of Sowerby.

    Halifax was one of the last places in the country to retain the use of this punishment.

    This isn't the actual gibbet, but a reconstruction, re-built here in 1974, ( but it was vandalised, and replaced again in 2003), on the original site

    It's a good place for photo ops, as Dao Scoobydoofast and Hansi demonstrated!

    I wouldn't have been surprised if a certain breakfast waitress wasn't to be found (in an earlier life), sitting here knitting, as the heads rolled!

    Talking of heartless women - I'd met Mamawinnie an hour or so earlier, and thought she was a warm, friendly, kind woman and a good mother to Ryan (Scoobydoofast)

    However - Check out my photo-

    What kind of a mother leaves her son to his fate under the Gibbet blade, and walks away laughing!!!! ;-)

    I've downloaded a short video of Vters at the Gibbet in 2008- but be warned- It's not just those who met their fate here that got a pain in their neck! - for some reason it's replayed at a strange angle, and I can't work out how to alter this yet :-(

    UPDATE - VTers and guests visited the Gibbet on a drizzly Sunday morning, during Ricky 52's Rushbearing and Scarecrows weekend.

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    Old Tristram

    by suvanki Written Apr 25, 2012

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    Old Tristram Donations Box
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    I first became aware of Old Tristram, from the carved stone 'milestones' outside Halifax minster, with the inscription 'Pray Remember the Poor' (pic 2)
    Later, visiting the Minster, I spotted the Donations box, with the figure of Tristram holding it. It's by the South Door.

    Well, this donations box dates back over 300 years, and is believed to be the only example of a Churches 'Poor Box' attached to a figure. Normally, these are long handled wooden boxes.

    Tristram was a licensed beggar, who was allowed to collect alms for the poor of Halifax, from the porch of the church. His rent was paid by the church.

    It is thought that he arrived in Elland, from Worcestershire in 1648, with a wife and two children. He was possibly injured, during the Civil War. How he ended up in Halifax is unclear.

    He lived to 90, and was buried in Halifax in 1711.

    From old church records, It is thought that his name was John Trusteram.

    Before his death, the wooden sculpture was created by John Aked, a local renowned painter and carpenter.

    The markers outside the Minster are the starting point for Tristrams Trails - For 1.50, pick up a booklet from the Minster, for one of the round walk trails around Halifax centre
    -Trail 1, You 'follow in the footsteps 'of a milkman named John Newton and Dolly, his horse.
    While Trail 2 you take on the personna of a Elizabeth Appleyard, a young girl, from 1860's Halifax, and explore the Woolshops, North Bridge, Old Lane and Dean Clough Mills, before returning to the Minster.
    The trails have been planned by The Ways of Halifax, based at Causey Hall, next to the Minster.

    I have these booklets, but haven't followed the trails - (Remembering to bring them to Halifax would help)!

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    The Square Congregational Church

    by suvanki Written Apr 25, 2012

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    Square Church, Halifax
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    The Square Church is adjacent to the older Square Chapel, Now a centre for culture and Arts.

    It was built between 1856-8, in the Gothic Congregational style by Joseph James, and funded by the Crossley Family (John and Sir Francis)- Carpet Manufacturers.

    It was built to rival the design of the church of All Souls on Haley Hill. Apparently both buildings were near to completion, and the architects were instructed to stop building before the last few feet of the spire, to see who would finish first. The Crossleys, loosing patience after some time, and stopped the spire at 235 foot (72 metres)- All Souls has an extra 12 inches on their spire.

    The steeple of the Square church, became Grade 2 listed on 2nd March 1950.

    The church closed in 1969. Two years later, arsonists caused considerable damage to the main body, resulting in demolition in 1976. The Tower and steeple were preserved.

    When I visited in 2010, the church was surrounded by metal fencing, and it looked in a sorry state.
    In 2005, there had been an emergency appeal for funding, as this landmark, was in a state of dangerous deterioration. The top 7ft was removed and repaired.

    In March 2012, it appeared that more repair/restoration had been carried out. Still surrounded by meshed fencing, it was easier to get a view from the Chapel yard, of the gargoyles and stone carved heads etc.

    Ladders could be seen at the top of the steeple - which was encased in a scaffolding platform.

    Every time I view this steeple, I see something new of interest. My first visit, it was the ornate Rose Window (pic 5), my last visit - the gryphon gargoyle (pic 3) and the expressive stone heads around the doorways and windows - one reminded me of Oliver Reed (pic 4)

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