Halifax Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Halifax

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    The Square Chapel

    by suvanki Updated Apr 25, 2012

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    The Square Chapel
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    The Square Churches (Chapel and Church) are named after their location, and not neccesarily because of their shape.

    They sit side by side, and surprisingly, the brick church, which is now The Square Chapel for The Arts, is the older of these 2 Congregational Churches.
    It is considered to be 'One of the most remarkable buildings in West Yorkshire and the only remaining square church in Britain'.

    Built in 1772, it was one of the earliest brick buildings in the town. Most of Halifax's buildings are constructed of local stone. It was built to hold the congregation who had outgrown their chapel on Gaol Lane.

    Titus Knight was responsible for the construction of this building. Knight had started his working life at 7 years of age, as a coal miner at Shibden colliery. Unusually, he was self taught in Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Classical history. He also had a religious upbringing, initially as Church of England, but after hearing John Wesley preach, he became a Methodist. He then fell out with the Methodists and became a Congregationalist. After giving sermons at Londons Tabernacle, he returned to Halifax, and set to, in 1772, with the construction of this 60ft Square building. The designer being Thomas Bradle(1753-1833), aged 18! It is believed that Bradley was responsible for the design of The Piece Hall.

    The design of the Congregational church, was typically non-conformist, as it was open, with uninterrupted views of the preacher - Made possible by having no internal supports - The largest unsupported roof span in Britain at the time.
    Titus became the first pastor of the Chapel, when it opened on 24th May 1772. He was visited by his old friend John Wesley, in July 1772 who admired the size and 'upmost elegance' of the new building, but declined an offer to preach here, instead opted for an open air meeting at the cattle market, as more people could gather to hear him.

    The last sermon was preached here on 12th June 1857. Over the decades the Chapel was used as a Sunday School, Assembly rooms, Orchestra practice room and Scout Hut amongst other purposes.
    In 1939, it was requisitioned by the army, when it began its fall into disrepair and dereliction. It was due for demolition, when a group of 6 Theatre lovers, formed the Square Chapel Trust, and purchased the building from Calderdale Council for £25.

    The Square Chapel Centre for The Arts, is one of the areas most popular Performance centres, attracting over 40,000 visitors to see plays, musical performances and other art events.

    The author Jennifer Sutcliffe has written Square Chapel Halifax:History and Architecture.

    During my recent visit, I noticed plaques indicating that Titus Knight, Thomas Bradley, and John and Martha Crossley, founders of John Crossley & Sons, Carpet Manufacturers, who paid for the construction of the adjacent Square Church in 1855, amongst other important buildings in the town.

    The front of the Chapel is 'paved' with gravestones - many with elegantly inscribed lettering.

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    Halifax Visitor Centre & Art Gallery

    by suvanki Updated Apr 25, 2012

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    Halifax Visitor Centre & Art Gallery
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    Halifax Tourist Information is located in the Visitors Centre in the Piece Hall. Here you can find information, and books etc about Halifax/ The Calder Valley/West Yorkshire and beyond. There's a good range of gifts at reasonable prices. Post-cards are available from only 10p - 20 pence!!

    I found the staff to be very helpful, especially in providing a useful folder of information leaflets and maps etc, for everyone attending the 'Pork Pie and Mushy Peas' meet. I was having trouble contacting the restaurant that we'd planned to eat at on the Friday night, and ended up contacting the TI - I spoke to Vanessa, who was very helpful, and found me a mobile number, she also posted me a pack of Halifax info, which arrived next day. I found out that the restaurant I'd planned for us to eat at had closed down a week or so ago, but found an alternative venue.

    In this office, I also found an interesting Halifax Town Trail self guided walk booklet, and a book about the Rushbearing.

    In the visiters centre, are some interesting information boards (pic 3)about the history of The Piece Hall and the textile industry, and historical events, including the visit of Blondin, the famous tightrope walker in 1861

    During my recent visit (March 2012), there was an exhibition from past Olympic Games, including posters and programmes (pic 4)

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    The Union Cross

    by suvanki Updated Apr 25, 2012

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    The Union Cross Hotel
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    The Union Cross Hotel, was originally called The Crosse Inn, as it stood opposite the old market cross, in the market square.
    It is mentioned in records dated 1535, making it the oldest surviving inn in Halifax. The ‘Union’ was added at the time of the Jacobite rebellion .

    The inn was the central coaching and packhorse halt in town, and its vicinity was good for business! Records from 1818 confirm that coaches left here daily for Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Nottingham. It was also from here, that goods were transported by horse drawn wagon, by public carriers, who offered this service.

    At the front entrance, to the right, is a mounting stone

    It had one of the largest cock fighting rings in the district, and this continued in an upstairs room long after the sport had been banned! Up to £30 could be won - quite a fortune for those times!

    In 1680, the Inn was run by a landlady called Widow Mitchell-On the 31st August a cock fight took place, which was recorded by the non conformist minister, Oliver Heywood... "they drank all night and were so high in swearing, ranting at the Crosse that they were heard far in the town. Lord Eglington, a Scotch Lord, stood on horseback at T.C door, swearing, ranting, calling for sack, making people drink, 100 were flocking about them, then rid desperately along the Corn-market and light at Crosse, stayd most of the week – men went home with heavy heads and empty purses"

    Oliver Heywood and John Wesley both visited the inn on seperate occasions, to try and 'save these sinners' Wesley had to give up an attempt to preach from its steps.

    It is also believed that while staying at the inn, Daniel Defoe wrote part of ‘Robinson Crusoe’

    In 1735,the inn had a bowling green.

    Today, entertainment is in the form of Karaoke (Friday Night) Rock Night-Saturday, Quiz night (with Play Your Cards Right) Wednesday to win a Gallon of beer

    Home Cooking, Draught ales :Carling, Fosters, Becks Vier, Stella, John Smiths Guinness, Strongbow and Magners Draught

    Real ales available :Flowers Original, Tetley, Timmy Taylor Landlord, Old Speckled Hen.

    A book has been written about this inn - "Dark Secrets of the Union Cross Inn at Halifax"

    Well Gillybob, kaspian and myself had to visit here, during our VT meet - For Historical Research of course!!

    A friendly welcome - We were asked what we wanted to drink - then invited to use the jukebox - free of charge!

    We adjourned to the small outside yard, and enjoyed our pints!

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    The Parish Church of St John The Baptist

    by suvanki Updated Apr 25, 2012

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    The Minster Church of St John The Baptist
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    Before my trip to Halifax in 2008, I knew that my maternal Great Grandmother was born in Halifax, I didn't know until today, whilst visiting my parents, that my Great Great Grandparents were married in this church and My Great Great Great Grandmother was baptised here. Please see my Halifax intro page for more info about my Halifax connections!

    Most of the churches architecture is from the 15th century, but the North wall contains pieces from 1120, and was the exterior wall of a previous church, which may have dated back to Saxon times.
    In 1879, a major restoration was carried out of the interior. Sir George Gilbert Scott oversaw the work.

    The outside blackened millstone grit walls are a legacy from the industrial past of Halifax.

    The church was closed at the time of my first visit, but there was quite a bit of interest on the outside to see - particularly the 4 gargoyles near the main door. Now that I've found out about my family connections to this church, I have since returned a few times.
    In 2009 this church became Halifax Minster - so is now formally known as The Minster Church of St. John the Baptist Halifax

    I enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, while wandering around. At my recent visit at Easter though, there was piped music of 'Gregorian chants'

    The Minster has much of historical interest, some of it unexpected!

    The Holdsworth Chapel was built by Robert Holdsworth, who was vicar here from 1525-1555. A feud between the Tempest and Savile family, resulted in him being murdered in the vicarage by members of the Tempest family. A 17th century altar table can be seen here.

    Bishop Ferrar - Bishop of St Davids is honoured by an impressive tomb at the back of the Minster.
    During the reign of Queen Mary, he was martyred and burnt at the stake in 1555.

    The Rokeby Chapel, was built in memory of another former vicar - William Rokeby -1502-1520. His heart is buried, in a lead box in the Minster!

    Three vicars perished during the 14th Century Plague

    The Minster has some interesting stained glass windows - However, on the South wall are 5 Commonwealth windows of clear glass. A gift to the church in 1645, as the previous stained glass windows were destroyed by soldiers, during the Cromwellian uprising.
    The window on the East wall dates from 1851, and won First Prize for stained glass in the Great Exhibition. It was created by George Hedgeland, and gifted to the church by Edward Ackroyd, a local Mill owner/philanthropist.

    Another chapel is dedicated to the memory of the Duke of Wellingtons Regiment (Now the 3rd Battalion of The Yorkshire Regiment) Old flags from various campaigns are displayed on poles or in glass cabinets.
    Elsewhere in the Minster are memorials to local men who lost their lives in WW1, WW2 and other wars.

    3 misericord stalls are seen on the right of the Sanctuary, which are thought to have been 'rescued' from Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds during the dissolution of the monasteries, between 1536-1541.
    A further 6 misericord stalls are seen as part of the choir screen. These intricately carved seats, were known as mercy seats as they fold down to provided a ledge for weary derrieres to rest during the long services.

    The Four-Manual organ (pic 3) has some original pipework from the 1766 Snetzler organ. It was rebuilt by Harrison & Harrison in 1928. During major renovation of the church in 1879, the Georgian organ case was replaced by the one seen today. The organ was also moved to this position, from the West Gallery (which no longer exists)
    There is a donations box, for contributions for the planned renovation, and aquisition of a 1770 Snetzler organ- for organists to practice as part of the Halifax Organ Academy, which will cost £650,000

    Throughout the year, there are organ recitals (Thursdays at 13.00hrs), open days, workshops and masterclasses, as well as concerts by local and visiting orchestras, choirs etc.

    While wandering around, don't forget to look up to the ceiling - The wooden panels depict the Coats of Arms of local families, some of the vicars (from wealthier families) and the Tribes of Israel.

    The font at the back of the Minster, has an intricately carved cover (pic 2), which is considered one of the finest examples in England. It's hard to imagine that at one time this was brightly painted green, red and blue!
    During the time of the Commonwealth (1653-1659) the font cover was stored in a nearby house owned by a Mr Hartley. This is now The Ring O Bells pub.

    Near the font is a carved wooden figure (pic 4) - 'Old Tristram' - a licensed beggar, who was allowed to beg for alms in the church porch, for the 'poor of Halifax' at the end of the 17th Century.

    Open Daily- Winter 10.00 - 14.00 Summer 10.00 -16.00
    Morning Prayer 0900
    Communion service 12.30 weekdays
    Sunday Services - see website or notice boards

    Donation boxes for restoration and upkeep of the Minster.

    At my recent visit, as I was about to leave I spotted a printed notice - 'Photography permits' - I'd been snapping away quite happily (without flash). I had put a donation into one of the boxes, as I usually do if I take photos - the volunteer didn't mention the permit.

    There is a small gift shop, with post cards, guide booklets.

    Volunteers are available to answer questions.
    Information boards near the entrance offer interesting articles about the history of the church and Halifax from the Medieval Foundations.

    Refreshments available, during events and maybe at various other times.

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    Shibden Hall Mansion

    by yvgr Updated Apr 21, 2012

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    Shibden Hall
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    Shibden Hall is an old Tudor House and its most famous inhabitant was a landowning lady named Anne Lister (1791-1840). She's most famous for her 24 voulmes of preserved diaries. She was also a mountaineer and the first woman to climb Vignemale. Anne Lister made detail records in her diaries about everyday life in old Halifax. She also wrote in detail about her estate buisness, coal mining, her plans for Shibden Hall and her travels. She did a lot of travels in Europe but died in Georgia of a fever. Her most private thoughts about family and friends were written down with help of an secret alphabet.

    Great guides and a small fee. Also has a small café.

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    The Piece Hall

    by yvgr Updated Apr 18, 2012

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    The Piece Hall in Halifax
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    The Halifax Piece Hall is a building in the town centre and used to be the centre for woollen handloom weavers some 200 years ago. It opened in 1779, with over 300 separate rooms arranged around a central courtyard. The term piece refers to pieces of cloth that were sold. Today is not a glamorous sight with only a very few shops around.

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    Halifax Central Library

    by yvgr Updated Apr 10, 2012

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    The Central Library in Halifax

    This is the first time I'll add a library to my travel tips, but I'll go ahead with it. The Halifax Library is a great place to hang at if you want to learn more about the history of Halifax. I spent 2 hours on local research here. Great for resting too!

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    Shibden Park

    by yvgr Updated Apr 6, 2012

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    Shibden park in Halifax
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    The Shibden Park is a public park since 1926. No fees except from parking the car. Easy to axcess! The park is a part of the Shibden Estate and a green oasis in summer. Lots of oaks and history around. Its located less than a mile from Halifax in West Yorkshire. The new Shibden Mereside cafe and visitor facilities are part of the recently completed restoration project. Really beautiful in the summer so I'm looking forward coming back.

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    THE INVENTOR OF CAT'S EYES

    by DAO Updated Apr 4, 2012

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    RICKY 52 HAS CAT EYES !!!
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    OK people! Pay attention. No this is not a tip about feline eyesight or the creation of the world. No, our subject is road safety. Percy Shaw (1890 - 1976) was born in Halifax and invented the single best road safety device ever. Cat’s eyes have saved millions from death and/or injury by illuminating roads in the dark and also alerting dozing drivers that they are approaching the edge of the road by causing the vehicle to bump over them. In addition to that these little beauties are self-cleaning! Shaw invented the technology in 1933 when he realised real cats have reflective eyes in low light. He took 2 reflective glass spheres and placed them in a rubber dome that is then mounted in a heavy cast iron housing. Over the years the technology has grown from the original white to a variety of colours.

    He first realised the need for some sort of reflective road guide when overhead trams lines in nearby Bradford were taken down. He had seen the reflections of light and used them to guide him when driving in the dark. During World War II vehicles used severely restricted headlamps because of the fear of bombing. The catseye received government backing as they realised their usefulness.

    How smart are they? Percy Shaw even made them self-cleaning. A small well under the eyes collects rain water and if a car runs over it the eye is pushed down and washed. Many improvements have been tried and there are more to come, but they all started because Mr. Shaw realised the needs of motorists.

    Pictured is a demonstration by Ricky52. No. I don’t know where he got it. You can email him and ask. If the Police ask me – I haven’t seen him.

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    The Town Hall

    by yvgr Written Apr 2, 2012

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    Visiting Halifax town hall is a nice experience for anyone interested in history. It's a grade II listed building and opened in the 1860s. It has a very distinct architecture and nice sculptures on display.

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    Triangle

    by Balam Written Jun 21, 2011

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    Triangle is a small village in Calderdale not far from Halifax and situated on the A58 road which goes over the Pennines between Sowerby Bridge and Ripponden, The village dates mainly from the 19th century but there was a settlement here for sometime before.
    The name of the village comes from a patch of ground which was formed at the junction of the old road where it parted with a newer toll road to Rochdale now the A58.
    Before this time the village was named Pond , I presume because there was a pond there.

    Triangle is the site of the VT Carry on Camping Weekend 24th to 26th June 2011

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    Like the Rockefeller centre in Halifax!

    by BlueBeth Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This winter an ice rink has been set up in the historic Piece Hall. We've had one before but it wasn't big enough for holding hands with your loved one. This one takes up half the old market square and looks great fun!

    http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/leisure/activities/iceskating/index.html

    see website above for opening times.

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    Culture

    by BlueBeth Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Doesn't look much from here...
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    I love theatre and The Viaduct at Dean Clough is a great space. Originally a carpet mill, Dean Clough is now a remarkable combination of Art and Business, with galleries and artist studios jostling for space with big, big businesses... There are two theatre groups who base themselves here IOU Theatre and Northern Broadsides. I've seen Broadsides productions here and they're always amazing! Using predominantly northern actors (hence the name) and performing mainly Shakespeare they bring the plays to life.

    The galleries at Dean Clough have changing exhibitions and also show the work of northern artists, a lot of whom have studios here. You can spend a whole day enjoying the art and then pop into the Viaduct cafe bar for a coffee...

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  • Piece Hall, Halifax

    by MartinSelway Updated Apr 4, 2011
    Inside the Piece Hall

    This place is quite unique and a grade 1 listed building. The Piece Hall is one of the most significant and complete Georgian buildings in Britain

    It consists of a large courtyard, surrounded by galleries in the classical style on three levels. As a town square it compares well with any other in Europe and is a monument to both the woollen textile and stone masonry industries

    The Piece Hall was opened on 1st January 1779. It was built as a place for handloom weavers to sell their pieces of cloth, hence the name, and was a replacement for an earlier, smaller, Cloth Hall.

    When restored, the original 300 shops were rationalised into larger retail spaces more suited to modern conditions; when full, the Piece Hall has over 50 small retail shops.

    Among other things, you'll find, antiques, books, crafts, clothing, collectables, cosmetics, food, flowers, gifts, hobbies, jewellery, music and pictures.

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  • Eureka! Halifax

    by MartinSelway Updated Apr 4, 2011
    Eureka

    Eureka! The Museum for Children is the first and foremost hands-on children's museum in the UK designed especially for 3 - 12 year olds. With more than 400 must-touch exhibits and a full programme of events and activities, you'll be amazed at the fun things you can do!

    My children have been a couple of times and love the place.

    The museum, shop and café are open every day from 10 am - 5pm,
    except 24 - 26 December. Last admission 4pm.

    Adult and child admission £5.95
    Under 3's free
    Saver Ticket (admits 5 people) £27.50
    Groups of 10 or more children £4.25 per head
    School groups from £3.50 per head
    After 3pm Mon - Fri visitors are admitted at half price, during term time only.
    (Excludes pre-booked groups)

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