Halifax Things to Do

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Best Rated Things to Do in Halifax

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    Town Hall

    by Balam Written Aug 18, 2010

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    The Town Hall is an impressive building, it was designed by Charles Barry (the same architect that designed the Houses of Parliament) after he was asked to judge a competition that had been held for designs, he did not like any of the three that were submitted and so was asked to submit his own design. It was accepted but he died in 1860, his son Edward Middleton Barry completed the design and the duilding was finnished in 1863.
    It is a grade II listed building

    Halifax Town Hall Halifax Town Hall Halifax Town Hall Halifax Town Hall Halifax Town Hall
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    The Royal Oak Pub- Now Dirty Dick's!!

    by suvanki Updated Sep 14, 2012

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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.

    Royal Oak pub Halifax - Now Dirty Dicks Royal Oak/Dirty Dicks pub Halifax Royal Oak/Dirty Dicks pub Halifax Dirty Dicks - Ships timber from HMS Newcastle Dirty Dick's bar
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    The Piece Hall

    by suvanki Updated Nov 20, 2010

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    I remember visiting the Piece Hall, with my parents, probably in the early 1980's, when there was a Greenpeace/ CND event, so for years- (up until 2008!) I had thought this building was called The Peace Hall!

    So now I know better!

    Halifax and the surrounding towns and villages of the Calder Valley were Englands main centres of cloth production-, Much of this was carried out as cottage industries, with weavers producing pieces of cloth on hand looms. These were often Farmers, and their families, who worked on the cloth between their other duties. These pieces were laid outside to dry, and were therefore open to theft. Cloth production was so important for the country, that theft was punished by be-heading at the towns Gibbet-(Please see my earlier tip for more info)

    A piece took about a week to produce for those doing other work. It measured between 24 to 30yards long , and was about 27 inches wide (Depending on the width of the loom, which had to allow for space available in the small rooms)

    These finished pieces of cloth were then taken to a central hall, which had been built in 1572, for the purpose of trading this commodity. By the late 18th century, there was need for a larger hall to be built to accommodate the amount of trade that was taking place here.

    On 1st January 1779, the present Piece Hall was opened. It covers an area of 110 yards x 91 yards. Although there would have been many Piece Halls at the time, this is the only remaining one. It's size and design indicate the importance of this industry in Halifax.

    The site isn't level- but is on a slope which falls (or rises) 17 feet. So the building at the bottom end have 3 storeys, while the top end are 2 storied. The land was one of 2 sites chosen -This piece of land was offered by one John Caygill, who was a local land owner- If his offer was accepted, he promised to donate an additional £840 - So, despite the sloping land, this was the chosen site.

    The Piece Hall was designed by a Liverpudlian called John Hope. He was influenced by the Roman Classical style of architecture. Each level is of a different style: The lower storey is arcaded, the middle has square jointed rustic columns, and the upper level (Colonnade) has round doric columns. (pic 5)
    Staircases at each corner, and adjacent to the West Gate, lead to the different floors - there is the modern addition of at least one lift too.

    The hall can be entered from the north, south and west entrances. The oak studded door of the north gate is the only original entrance door or gate remaining.(pic 2)
    The ornate South gates were cast in 1871, when this entrance had to be widened to allow for wider vehicles to gain entrance. A cantilever bridge was also added, which has now been replaced by an electrically operated bridge.
    The Halifax Coat of Arms is displayed on the gate. (pic 3 + 4)

    The West Gate wasn't part of the original design, but is now probably the most used entrance

    It had 315 merchants rooms, which were rented at around £28 per year.
    Trading rules were quite strict

    Today, it is a pleasant place to just wander around, visit the Tourist Information office, stop for a coffee/snack or an Ice cream, or visit the small shops. There are live music events too.

    Anyone who's seen 'Brassed Off', will probably recognise this place, as it featured in the film!

    The Piece Hall The Piece Hall- North Gate The Piece Hall - South Gate The Piece Hall - South Gate The Piece Hall -columns and arches
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    Borough Market- The Covered Market

    by suvanki Updated Sep 8, 2010

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    My first visit here was on a Sunday afternoon, when it was closed, but it was still an interesting place for a look

    The Halifax Borough Market is located in the heart of the town centre, in a Victorian, Grade I British Heritage listed building. An earlier Market, that stood on this site, was demolished in 1891

    It was designed by local architects Joseph and John Leeming (who later designed Leeds Market, and parts of The Admiralty and War Office buildings in London.) and was constructed between 1891-1895, opening a year later.. It was opened by the Duke and Duchess of York (who were to be King George V and Queen Mary)

    The design allowed for shops to be built on the outer walls, with accommodation for the shopkeepers above their shops that faced Southgate and Market Street. The Market Hall was the centre piece, with arcades leading off.

    The glass roof allows for light to pass through to the market hall below.

    In 1973, the Building was stone cleaned to remove the grime from that had darkened the walls over the centuries. The interior has been painstakingly renovated, and the central clock (pic 3) and central roof dome remain. The ironwork is by William Macfarlane of Glasgow, and Phoenix Iron Company of Derby -(pic 5) good examples of Victorian architecture.

    The market is open six days a week, from 08.30- until 17.00, Closed Sundays.

    Stalls trade in a variety of goods, and there are currently just less than two hundred units.
    In 2008, the Market won an award for 'The Best Market Hall in England'.

    Many of the stalls have been passed down the generations, maintaining family businesses. However, parking problems - accessability, and parking fees, send busy shoppers to the large supermarkets with their large free car parks and long opening hours. It didn't feel like a place that was 'going under' though. Maybe the recession, is sending people back here.

    A book was written about the market in 1996-"100 years of Halifax Borough Market-History of Halifax Borough Market, 1896 - 1996".

    Borough Market Borough Market - arcade Borough Market Borough Market - Central clock Borough Market - iron work
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    The Union Cross

    by suvanki Updated Apr 25, 2012

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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!

    The Union Cross Hotel The Union Cross Hotel and yard The Union Cross Hotel yard The Union Cross Hotel - Ed and Gilly The Union Cross Hotel - windows above passage
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    The Square Chapel

    by suvanki Updated Apr 25, 2012

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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.

    The Square Chapel The Square Churches The Square Chapel Plaque indicating Thomas Bradley's grave Grave Stone - Square Chapel
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    The Wainhouse Tower

    by toonsarah Written Sep 19, 2012

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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.

    The Wainhouse Tower from below The stairs I made it! View from the tower Wainhouse Tower seen from Norland
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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”

    Lesley braves the blade!
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    Culture

    by BlueBeth Updated Apr 4, 2011

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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...

    Doesn't look much from here... ...actually it's quite big this place!
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    Not for the faint hearted

    by BlueBeth Updated Aug 25, 2007

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    Wainhouse Tower (or Wainhouse's folly as it is also known) is a great big tower overlooking the Calder Valley. Built in the late 19th century it was supposed to be a chimney for a local dye works. John Wainhouse owned a mill lower in the valley and wanted to help the health of his workers by channelling the smoke from the chimneys over the top of the hill. Unfortunately he sold the mill before the chimney was finished... So he changed the design a bit, added stairs and a viewing platform and a few windows and voila... A new attraction. The local council now own the site and it is now lit up at night, a view seen from miles around. The idea to light up the tower came from a ten year old school boy (coincidentally a friend of one of my sons) to celebrate the millenium. The tower is open to the public on Bank Holidays and for those of you willing to climb the 403 steps to the top, the view is breath taking. Yes even I have been up there - a fact my boyfriend can't get over as I'm phobic about heights :-)

    UNFORTUNATELY THE TOWER IS NOW CLOSED, IT REQUIRES EXTENSIVE REPAIRS AND THE LOCAL COUNCIL DO NOT HAVE THE FUNDS. ALAS, IT IS A SIGN OF THE TIMES IN WHICH WE LIVE WHERE WE LIVE FOR THE PRESENT AND DO NOT CHERISH THE PAST.

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    Wainhouse Tower - A folly!

    by suvanki Written Sep 3, 2012

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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.

    Wainhouse Tower Wainhouse Tower Wainhouse Tower - looking up Wainhouse Tower -staircase Wainhouse Tower - view from the top to Norland
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    St John the Baptist Church

    by aaaarrgh Updated Sep 8, 2008

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    Halifax's main church is St John the Baptist's, a short walk from the train station. It only goes to prove the saying 'Where there's muck there's brass', it is probably the blackest and most grimey church I've seen but inside it is filled with many architectural riches! The interior is also dimly lit and very atmospheric. The routes inside and outside the church are paved with old tombstones.

    Saturday morning is undoubtedly the best time to visit the church. It is full of life as the congregation prepares for the afternoon's weddings. When volunteers are available the church is open Monday to Friday and till noon on Saturday.

    St John's has some superb original features. For example, almost all of the wooden pews, rank upon rank, date from 1633. The font cover is the church's prized exhibit, dating from 1450 its intricate carvings stretch 20 feet up into the roof void. At the east end the chancel window won first prize for stained glass at Britain's Great Exhibition of 1851. Another fascinating feature is the North wall, now inside-out, it was once the exterior wall of an earlier church.

    The only drawbacks were the stewards, who were so chatty I found it difficult to escape!!!

    where thar's mook... ...thar's brass absolutely font-astic!! dead man walking
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    Britain's Oldest and Largest Cloth Hall

    by aaaarrgh Updated Sep 8, 2008

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    Halifax boasts the only remaining Cloth Hall in Yorkshire and the oldest one in Great Britain. In actuality, the Piece Hall was built (in the 1770's) only a few years before the town's cloth industry went into decline. However, it is absolutely vast and a great asset to the town. It is more of a massive public square than a hall, sorrounded on all four sides by colonnades on many levels. Confusingly (but effectively), because of the steeply sloping ground, the building has four storeys on the East side and only three on the West.

    The Piece hall's vast central square is used for public entertainment - free festivals and music. Around the outside are many small shops and cafes. To the east is the town's Tourist Information Office, it's Art Gallery and a Museum too. All-in-all you should definitely head straight here, whatever the day of the week or the weather, if you visit the town!

    east gate collonades public square
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    Wainhouse Tower

    by Gillybob Written Sep 29, 2012

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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

    The square base Wainhouse Tower View from lower window
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    Old Tristram

    by suvanki Written Apr 25, 2012

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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)!

    Old Tristram Donations Box Tristrams Trail marker stone Tristrams Trail marker stone Tristrams Trail marker stone Tristrams Trail marker stone
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