I woke up to the stunning news that England had voted, by a very close vote, to leave the EU – and Prime Minister David Cameron had resigned. I was very surprised. I didn’t think that England would vote for change. A laissez faire attitude is what I often associate with the Brits. Although it made big news in the media I saw little sign of the result during the day. It certainly wasn’t the main topic of conversation with the people that I’ve met in the past few days. When pressed most of the conversation appears to focus on the ‘terrible’ twins of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. For further comments see: http://waterfordwhispersnews.com/2016/06/24/thousands-of-british-refugees-make-dangerous-journey-across-the-irish-sea/
I met up with Gary at Halifax station at 10 a.m. I thought about not bringing a raincoat, but despite the blue sky there was rain in the forecast so I decided to take it along. I’d told Gary that i’d be interesting in getting close to the Wainhouse tower so he’d planned a route to take in this obelisk that can see from all over the area. I didn’t know if were were going to be out for an hour or so, or much longer, but the wonderful thing was that it didn’t matter either way. I had no commitments for the rest of the day. As it turned out we parted at 6:30 having seen so many historical things of the old Halifax that I would have certainly missed had I been looking around by myself. Gary even brought his thesis along for me to borrow: Community Leisure in Halifax between 1850 and 1918, and chapter 4 is devoted to brass bands!
First up were a couple of things that I’d planned – going to find Bath Street where one of my ancestors had lived. It’s adjacent to the station but the houses on it were demolished when the land was bought by the railway. The baths after which it was named were an elegant affair with formal gardens, modeled on Roman baths, a place to be seen, not the slipper baths which were a necessary function of everyday life without bathrooms in homes. Then a quick trip to the cathedral to purchase my ticket to the Black Dyke Mills concert there, and then a rather frustrating trip to the EE shop where, despite excellent help from the assistant I wasn’t able to find out why I’d used up 15 pounds of data in 3 days. But I did get 1 free GB and 200 free minutes out of them.
We passed a letter box painted gold because someone from Halifax had won a gold medal in the paralympic games. Then past the Percy Shaw pub dedicated to the Halifax man who had invented cats’ eyes for the road. We pottered around in back streets and forsaken driveways leading the Dean Clough Mills where we spent an hour taking in the different
uses for this old mill. The mill is in fact a group of large factory buildings built in the 1840s–60s for Crossley’s Carpets, becoming one of the world’s largest carpet factories. Part of it is an art gallery (free) a theater, a high end cookery school, general offices, hair dressers, high end tapas houses etc., etc. The concept is somewhat similar to that of Saltaire. The display Out of Darkness by Jenny Kagan, an interactive exhibition about the personal struggle for survival as a German Jew was brilliant. It was housed in the cave-like basement of the mill and used the broken pipes and uneven walls and floors as part of the exhibit – with dramatic lighting effects. There was a huge model of the mill complex too, all made out of lego.
We had lunch in Wetherspoon, Percy Shaw (cats’ eyes man) with a view towards the bus station and next was a glimpse into the old market hall, so similar to the one in Bolton that is currently undergoing complete reconstruction, just keeping the outer shell. Then
the rain came down – heavily. By now it was 2:30 and we hadn’t even got to the Wainwright Tower. But no matter. We took shelter in a bank – a wonderful piece of architecture. I remember when I went to the bank on occasion with my dad there was a feeling of reverence and hushed voices. This Lloyds bank had stained glass windows, a beautiful painted ceiling and I was given permission to take photos as long as I pointed my camera upwards.
We jumped onto a zippy bus to take us up the hill to the Wainhouse Tower which stands atop a hill high with wonderful views of Sowerby Bridge in the valley and the green moorlands above.At 275 feet, it is the tallest structure in Calderdale and the tallest folly in the world, and was erected in the four years between 1871 and 1875. The driving force
behind the erection of the viewing platforms was a long-standing feud between landowning neighbours John Edward Wainhouse (1817–1883) and Sir Henry Edwards (1812–1886). Edwards had boasted that he had the most private estate in Halifax, into which no one could see. As the estate was on land adjacent to the chimney’s site, following the opening of the viewing platforms, Edwards could never claim privacy again. Wainhouse was kind to his employees building them housing and providing a fresh water supply that then was channeled down the hill to his mill. All his buildings had JEW on them, his initials. The roads were very steep and many of them remain cobbled – easier to negotiate in frosty weather. Gary pointed out that each third row of cobbles is slightly raised to help prevent slips. He knows this area well since his grandmother used to live here and he went to Sunday school in a building that’s now been converted to apartments. He showed me where he used to play as a child and run to the shops for his grandma.
The Big 6 provided us with refreshment. This is very much a locals pub. In fact, it’s located in the middle of a terrace. Just across a busy road is the school he attended at Savile park,
the location of the Halifax fair. The lady sitting next to us in the pub was from Ecuador and she teaches Spanish at the school She told us that it was second choice to being
Hogwart’s School in the Harry Potter movies. We walked back down to the center of town, again along some steep cobbled road, arriving back at the station at 6:30.
I settled in for an evening sorting out photos of the day and finding out more about the things I’d seen today.