“ Located in West Yorkshire, UK, and nestled between Huddersfield to the South and Bradford to the North, Halifax is ideally situated within fifteen minutes drive from M62 J24 and easily accessible within a half an hour drive from Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield. „
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"Halifax? For a weekend break? Why?" We were asked this several times over our two days in the town. Maybe it's harder to appreciate the charms of a place if you live there day in, day out. I'd passed through Halifax on the train on several occasions and even made a ten minute stop once to deliver something by car but I'd often fancied stopping to take a look. The setting is dramatic; the hills make a pleasing backdrop which contrasts brilliantly with the old industrial buildings; the only example I can think of in the UK that comes close to this for the combination of industrial heritage and countryside is in our network of canals, especially in Cheshire and Staffordshire.
In this piece I'll look only at the town from an architectural point of view. Suffice to say it's a rather typical northern town with all the shopping brands you'd expect along with plenty of pubs and clubs, sporting entertainment (rugby league more or less eclipses football as the local sport of choice) and cultural pursuits.
If you're interested in architecture and/or British civic history, then Halifax is a good place to visit. John Betjeman described Halifax as 'a town of hidden beauty' a sentiment with which I can only partly agree, not because it's not beautiful but because these days 'faded' or 'crumbling' might be better words to describe it. The Clean Air Act of 1959 may have done a great deal towards saving some of Halifax's finest civic buildings but many others are now almost derelict or simply neglected at best.
A number have been saved and restored though and some of them are of importance not just to the town, but nationally too. The splendid Piece Hall (reviewed separately in this journal) is one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the UK. Built for wool merchants to display their cloths in the eighteenth century the complex, with it two tiered colonnades, was later used as the town's fruit and vegetable market before falling into severe neglect. A single vote saved the Piece Hall from being demolished and now it's at the heart of the town's civic pride.
The indoor market also got a new lease of life and visitors should make a point of at least passing by the see the tall entrances to the hall. Inside there are stalls selling everything from slippers to boiled sweets and it's a good place to look for a bargain. Ask at the bakery stalls to try some traditional local cakes and scones. The building iteself is Grade II listed on account of its handsome Victorian facade and impressive clock tower. Built between 1891 and 1895, this building with its glazed roof harks back to the days when Halifax wielded a great deal of economic clout.
Halifax was once a booming town, made rich by the wool industry. A number of buildings celebrate that importance and civic pride, most notably the town hall. It was designed by Charles Barry, who had already designed the Houses of Parliament in the capital; Haligonians like to say that the architect practiced the style in London and then came to Halifax to perfect it. It's another of Halifax's buildings to have Grade II status. The idea of having a town hall was orginally mooted in 1847 and several times in the following years, but in 1856 proposals were finally made more concrete, partially thanks to the Improvement Act of 1853 which made it possible for the city corporation to borrow £15,000 towards the costs of building a town hall, police station and courthouse. The complex opened in 1863 and no less than 350 trains brought more than 70,000 people to Halifax over two days to attend opening sessions; yet more made the trip on foot. The town hall was offocially opened by the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VII' it should really have been opened by Queen Victoria but after she'd been widowed two years earlier, she had retired from public life. The most striking element of the exterior design is the 180 feet high tower which was decorated with statues by John Thomas that represent the four continents. Meanwhile, paintings by Daniel Maclise and JC Horsely on the staircases are worth seeing, and hang under a colourful blue and green glass dome.
Although it dates from long before Halifax's boom days, the minster is another of the town's notable buildings. Parts of it date from the 1100s but over all it's a mixture of elements from a variety of styles. Until fairly recently it was just a parish church but local people fought a campaign to have it 'upgraded' to a 'minster' in the hope that it would highlight it's importance to people outside Halifax. The minster has numerous interesting architectural features inside and out but my favourite is the lifesize figure of 'Old Tristram' which holds the parish alms box. It was carved from wood in 1701 and is said to represent a man who used to beg in the Halifax area around that time.
Situated opposite the entrance to the train station, the Square Chapel is yet another listed building and dates from 1772. It's architect, Thomas Bradley (incidently he's also believed to have designed the Piece Hall) was only 18 years old at the time he designed it. The structure is 60 feet square and at the time of completion it's believed it was the largest unsupported roof span in the country. Although the chapel is used frequently as an arts venue it is in still need of further restoration but worth seeing if there's something on when you visit. We went in for a beer festival and noticed that while the lower floor has been modernised and improved, the main hall has suffered much damage to its original features.
At the 'bottom' of town, The Clough Mills are a magnificent reminder of the heyday of the town. Sympathetically restored to house apartments, office accommodation, artists' workshops, a theatre and a hotel, this complex was once home to the largest carpet factory in the world.
There are interesting buildings at every turn in Halifax, too many to mention in just one article. There are over 600 listed buildings in the immediate area of the town which gives those interested in old buildings plenty to look out for.
I was born in Halifax and have lived in the area almost all my life except for living in Newark for a while (where I would go back given the chance).
Halifax isn't a bad place to visit there are some good shops, officially there are more pubs/clubs per household than anywhere else in the country) with more being built almost daily!) and there are some nice places to visit.
Quite a lot of big chain stores here such as M & S, W H Smith, Woolworths, Peacocks, New Look, Evans, Wilkinsons and The Body shop (among others) there are also lots of "one off shops" Harveys is a department store sells higher end fashion, cosmetics and homeware items, Spinnies very nice card and gift shop with a coffee shop, a few small "boutiques" and 2 markets! There is the Borough Market large, indoor open all week (except Sunday), sells everything from fruit and veg to porcelain dolls and everything inbetween. The Piece Hall Market outdoors open Thursday, Fridays and Saturday and the 4 Sundays before Christmas. Thursday is the busiest day this is second hand day! The peice Hall itself has some good specialist shops dolls houses and teddy bears, craft, mineral and crystals, records and a book shop. The Piece Hall is a wonderful building more about that later.
There did used to be Westgate Market as well which was a small indoor market that could have been really nice but somehow wasn't and recently closed, what it will reopen as is anyones guess but possibly another bar or club!
Loads of them, if a business closes down and it is big enough it will open as a pub or club! For a decent cheap pub lunch go to the Brass Cat they do 2 meals for £4.99 and aren't half bad. There is a Yates wine bar which is always packed. There are several Nightclubs, The Coliseum where I spent my later teen years! Not a bad club usually busy, not much trouble, drinks not cheap but they do have cut price nights have live acts on occasionally Jason Donovan springs to mind! The Acapulco known locally as the Acca, dosen't seem too bad, cheap drinks ok crowd used to be that the men were all about 50 and the girls about 15! Both are mainstream music clubs. The Tube and Zoo bar are more "alternative" music. Revival has a heavy metal night on a Friday usually with a live tribute band playing last time I was in it was "Moletallica"!
There are countless pubs most of them are ok, no real dives!
Eureka Childrens Museum is a must if you have kids, it is about £4.75 per person kids and adults pay the same under 2s are free. They have loads of "hands on exhibits" there is a M & S, a post office and a kwik fit as well as a broadcasting studio and how your body works. There is a gift shop and cafe which are both fairly resonable.
Bankfield museum is situated just outside Halifax town, they have various exhibits troughout the year past ones have been 1960's and the world wars.
Shibden Hall is situated again just outside Halifax town centre in Shibden Park. It is still as it was in the 17-1800's and craft fairs are held there where vendors will dress in authentic costumes.
Other places of interest
The Piece Hall is probably one of Halifaxs finest buildings. It is a large multi storey building around a central courtyard where wool and cloths were sold, an outdoor market is still held here Thursday (flea market), Friday and Saturdays. The building itself has dozens of small individual shops ranging from model shops to vinyl record shops. If you enter the Piece Hall from the Westgate entrance there is a handprint in the stone wall this is said to be a Witches handprint left as she tried to stop herself being dragged into the courtyard for execution.
The Shay, if you are a Halifax Town supporter, not much to look at really but some people do go to visit!
Peoples Park, a delightful park with a fountain and staues that have been restored over recent years, and a newly opened information centre. Until recently was a no go area, situated to the west of the town centre it is now a pleasent place for a family day out, there is a play park for the children and the whole area is covered by CCTV, the park is locked at night.
The Victoria Theatre, a lovely building which attracts acts for all tastes, from Chubby Brown to the ballet, The Chippendales stripped there and teh West Yorkshire Scouts put on Gang show there every 4 years.
The Halifax, a review of Halifax wouldn't be complete without mentioning THE Halifax would it? The Head Office is on the outskirts of the town centre and is a massive building almost entirely made of windows! Although it has been there for years it still looks modern and somehow out of kilter to it's surroundings, it is among beautiful old buildings and looks stark and unfriendly in contrast.
Transport and Parking
Most of Halifax Town centre is pedestrian zoned but there is plenty of parking both in car parks and on streets. All parking is pay and display (except disabled). The town has a good bus service and trains are frequent. The Bus station has won several design awards and there is a lovely cafe there for while you wait for your bus. The bus and train services into Halifax are quite good.
All in all Halifax is a nice place to visit with plenty to see and do, but I'd prefer not to live here!
Halifax is the administrative centre for the Metropolitain Borough of Calderdale and is situated in the County of West Yorkshire in the North of England. Looking at a map of the U.K we are slightly north of central between Leeds and Manchester. Calderdale is essentially Halifax, the upper and lower Calder valley and the Ryburn valley. The area is 363 sq km iand is an area that includes the outstanding natural beauty of the South Pennines and historic townscape. The population of Calderdale is just under 200,000 people and Halifax itself just short of 100,000. Halifax is steeped in history and derives its name from the old English words of Halh (nook of land) and Gefeaxe (coarse grassland). From its early settlement Halifax has greatly developed, mainly due to the woollen and textile trade and in recent years banking, finance and insurance. Halifax was granted its municipal charter in 1848, thus making it a borough. The historic wool trade of the past is is best demonstrated in the Italianate Collonaded 18th Century piazza where cloth was sold. The square is named the Piece Hall. The name Piece Hall is derived from the pieces of cloth that local woollen merchants sold. The centre of Halifax has undergone a phoenix like transformation and has been restored to its full glory. Halifax has many Edwardian and Victorian gems and this is demonstrated through the legacy of architecture they have bestowed up on the town. Indeed, Halifax has been noted as having the most complete Edwardian street scape in the UK. An interesting fact is that Halifax town hall was designed by Sir Charles Barrie - architect of the Houses of Parliament in London! One of the really nice things about Halifax is its scale and the lack of an arndale centre or central mall. We do have a very decent shopping area, but rather than building a bland could be anywhere centre; they remodelled old edwardian shop fronts and developed new o
nes in keeping to give the Woolshops Centre. This is an excellent example of modern townscape in keeping with the old. For a great view of the town you must visit Beacon Hill, Halifax. As the name suggests the hill was used as a site for the beacon to ward against invaders, nowadays it affords an excellent view of the town and NO tourists (only the locals know about it!!!) An equally impressive view is from Wainhouse Tower (only open Bank Holidays). Wainhouse tower is an impressive stone built tower to the west of the town centre. What can you do in Halifax??.... lots of stuff!! Apart from the shops and architecture, Halifax has some of the best nightclubs in the north of England. It has many pubs and clubs and all are centrally located, there are even coach parties that visit, such is the popularity! There is a new Jumpin' Jacks, The Colliseum, The Acapulco, Bar Centro and hundreds of pubs (quite literally). There is the Eureka Childrens Museam (Nationally recognised) the Bankfield Museum, Shibden Hall and Museum and Dean Clough Art Galleries for those visitors into the arts. The town also has the Victoria Theatre which attracts lots of top acts. Sportier types can visit the leisure centre, town pool or even go ski-ing at the Halifax Ski Centre (artificial slopes). Getting here. Getting here couldn't be easier. Most visitors from abroad will fly to the region. Yorkshire has its own international airport - Leeds Bradford. It has links to Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin and Paris together with many domestic services. Many foreign visitors can utilise the many charter flights. In addition if a suitable flight is not available (non European) Manchester International is only an hour away by car or train. For travel within the U.K; train services are frequent and link all regional centres including, Leeds, Manchester, Liverppol and York. Road connections are
excellent via the M1 and M62 - direct access via Junctions 22, 24 and 26. Out of the town centre. Visit Withens Moor, Wainstalls, Halifax- this is the real Bronte Moor and is rugged and Wild. In addition visit the many pretty towns and villages near such as Hebden Bridge, Luddenden, Midgley and Haworth. Hebden Bridge is the most popular, it is cosmopolitain, trendy, arty and is in a really lovely setting. An interesting fact about Hebden Bridge is that it is the Lesbian capital of the north- probably due to the liberal attidues that have stayed since the hippies arrived in the 60's! Halifax is well worthy of a visit and people will be surprised at the diversity and beauty of Calderdale. To say that we are in one of the most densely populated areas of England and indeed the United Kindgom, you are never far from real rural treats or urban gems. For further information see:- http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/ www.yorkshirevisitor.com www.ytb.org.uk www.yorkshirenet.co.uk/seegde http://www.halifaxcourier.co.uk/ http://www.woolshopsshoppingcentre.co.uk/ http://www.harveysofhalifax.co.uk/ http://www.eureka.org.uk/
I like Halifax. If it were based, say, where Preston is, it would be THE tourist attraction to be seen at. The reason I like it doesn't have anything to do with my girlfriend living there, but I just think it is lovely. The reason it is not THE tourist attraction to be seen at is mainly because of its location, in between two massive great big cities, the great wonderful and prosperous Bradford and, don't make me say it, Leeds. These shadow Halifax's greatness. In fact, Halifax was once a brilliant town, thriving in the woollen and engineering trades until fabric weaving came at 5 pence a yard from sweatshops in Indonesia and Africa. I believe it also once was a city as their coat of arms states something like "God save the city". Now, however it is part of a new borough alled Calderdale (much in the same way Keighly is now part of Bradford) which I dont much like, apart from halifax. Calderdale is full of those grimy little milltowns, with back-to-backs for which Yorkshire is fanous. These stretch from Halifax to Todmorden and well into Lancashire and finish about Rawtenstall. Instead of visiting these and analysing the various soot particles stuck to 1'6" gable ends, visit Halifax city centre. Halifax is actually quite good for shopping for a town of its size although all the locals complain about it. Various shops are being done up at the minute and markets redeveloped. It should be really nice when its done. Halifax also has brilliant nightlife. In my opinion far better, and definately cheaper, than Bradford or Leeds. Now I can't remember the exact prices, but the Colloseum and Acapulco offer excellent nights out or if its a pub crawl your after you practically fall out of one pub into another! If you plan to go to Acapulco but get put off because it looks a right scruffy hole from the outside - don't be! Outside it is painted black and its all scratching off but don't worry - its great inside! The Colluseum
is also brilliant but I don't need to note that because it looks OK from the outside anyway. The best thing about Halifax centre though has got to be the ABC cinema. I went there with my girlfriend the other week and when we went in it looked just like the ABC in Leeds - Formica Formica Formica! The ticket office didn't even have a till! Just a dish with money in and a roll of those really old "ADMIT ONE" tickets I never even thought existed. The staff were very pleasant however and told us to "Enjoy our film" (like THAT was what I was planning on enojying!) which I have never been told at either Odeon Bradford, Odeon Leeds, Odeon Leeds Bradford, ABC Leeds or Showcase Birstall but the best thing has got to be the audotorium! We were in Audotorium 1 and I don't know what the others are like but we got inand I thought it was going to be like the 1960s attrocity I walked in on but in fact, only the back wall was done in Formica (the exit). The rest was what it must have been like when it was built - maybe 100 years ago! Seriously now, the audotorium was just like what you would expect to see at a theatre, and was about half the size of the Alhambra in Bradford! The only difference was it didn't have them silly boxes or whatever you call them (the things that look like thise ashtrays you get in cars) at the side and it only had one circle thing. The decor was picturesque apart from two gigantic speakers outside the screen - even this was situated on a stage! It was £3.50 a ticket for Bridget Jones' Diary if anyone is interested. Anyway, Halifax is a great town and well worth a visit. While you're there, don't visit the rest of Calderdale or Leeds, but Bradford might be worth a go. Oh, and the bench outside the library next to the bus station - don't even think about it - Its mine and stefs!
A lovely little town in Yorkshire. With its winding roads and steep hills, Halifax is one of the more scenic towns in West Yorkshire. There are many attractions in Halifax including the most famous 'Shibden Park'. Where we were recent visitors. I have been going to shibden since I was a child and it is most definatly one of the best parks I have been to. Set on a hilly area it has many walking trails, A boating lake with childrens pedal boat area, a playground and also a little train which trundles around the lower area of the park. There is also Shibden Hall which is worth visiting on an open day. I always like looking around old houses and they have regular fun days with people in costume and fun activities. The park is also the best place for sledging in winter. There is no hill like it, it just goes on forever. Shibden park is worth visiting even if you are not too local.