Month: June 2016 (Page 1 of 3)

Of organs and brass bands

4:50. I’m sitting at a picnic table outside The Wellington, sipping a bitter shandy and listening to the drip, drip on the umbrella above me. “Bloody hell! It’s sunshine,” comments the man on the next table as a few stray rays light up the froth on my drink. “Boris Johnson?  You must be fuckin’ jokin’. ‘Ee’s a pathological liar, ‘ee iz!” The conversation continues.


I’ve just spent the most amazing two hours in St Mary’s  church, Elland. I almost didn’t come here. Well, Elland is not a tourist destination by any stretch of the imagination, but then I’m not a tourist.There seemed to be no redeeming features of this town half an hour’s bus ride south east of  Halifax, except that my great, great, great grandparents were married here on January 30, 1837, Sarah Booth and Joseph Haigh. The vicar had told me that if the church wasn’t open there would be a sign on the door as to who would have the key. I didn’t expect that the sign would say that I could obtain the key from the sweet factory across the street, the very same Dobson’s sweet shop that Gary and mentioned when he learned of my trip to Elland.


After an initial panic that the factory seems all closed up I saw someone move inside  and I found a buzzer next to the door. “I’ve come for a key to the church.” “Riiiight, luv,” and it was handed to me, just like that. No questions, no signing of name.  At the church it was dark, very dark inside and I found myself somewhat comforted by the Beatles music


The helpful church warden, Glen Littlewood

blasting from the west tower where I eventually made out a ghost rising into the air – no, a man dressed entirely in white, on a ladder painting the walls. At least there was someone else besides me alive and kicking amidst the tombstones and memorial plaques. I read about the medieval stained glass (very rare), the 14th century arch (similar to the ones in Kirkstall Abbey dating from 11 something), the font, the misericords, and came to realize that of all the churches I’ve been to on this ancestry lark, this one has retained most of the  features that my ancestors would have been familiar with.

After half an hour or so the painter noticed me and introduced himself as Glen Littlewood, the church warden. I explained my mission and as an afterthought asked who had the key to the organ and could I play it. It turns out that his father-in-law is the organist and he took over that role from his father in 1980. His father had held that position for 68 years. Their last name was Haigh – the same surname as my great, great, great grandfather Joseph who married Sarah Booth in 1837. Glen phoned his father-in-law and in ten minutes the octogenarian  arrived happy to give me my own personal recital, beginning, of course, with Bach’s Prelude in d minor. I could see that this man could really play well, and he was very knowledgeable about the stops. The console was built in 1949 and there’s currently a fund-raising project in progress, but it sounded really wonderful to me. Then it was my organ fund turn and fortunately I found a copy of Bach’s  6 Little preludes that I can actually play in a book of music with his father’s name on it. He told me that he had met his wife when he was subbing during one summer at Ely Cathedral. His wife was a violinist who had studied at the Royal College of Music. Glen’s grandad had played trombone in the Brighouse and Rastick brass band and I shall look out for his name on my mom’s old brass band records that I still play. Glen brought out the church records and we found the marriage of Sarah and Joseph (the shoemaker) but neither of them were buried there.



Great curry nite at Wetherspoons, Halifax

Leaving Elland I went upstairs on the bus since I knew that I didn’t have to get off until the bus station. There’s a low bridge on the road where the bus has to pull into the center of the road to avoid hitting the bridge!

It’s 6:15 now and I’ve just managed to negotiate the ordering system at Wetherspoons. I’ve landed on Curry Nite and the place is buzzing. I think I just got the last free table. It must be a favorite after work hang out. It’s primarily filled with small groups of guys standing ignoring  the TV where Jeremy Corbyn is refusing to resign. Large pipes clad in silver foil adorn the ceiling and lights suspended from a spider’s web of cables makes this one of Halifax’s trendiest night spots. For 6 pounds 50 I get chicken tikka masala, naan, 2 poppadums, pilau rice and a pint of cider. That’s a good deal! I can see T shirts, full on suits with ties, leather jackets, short sleeved shirts (because, remember, folks, this is the SUMMER), back packs, laptops cases, school uniforms and even a twin set with pearls. Lots of table sport bottles of wine in ice buckets, and I see a couple of guys alone but they’re playing the slot machines that line one wall. There are no, absolutely no women alone. Neither are there an Indians in here. That’s a bad reflection on the food, but there’s a large Indian restaurant right across the street. A period poster advertises Quality Street toffee, Rollos and Weekend, all made here in Halifax. In fact the factory is about 500 yards away from my table.  I never knew that. “Is that chair spare?” Ok, so now I stop looking like a looser whose date hasn’t shown up. Now I just look like a looser with no date! I stand to leave Wetherspoons. That’s interesting . . . I can feel the effects of the pint of cider I’ve jus consumed. I have a whole tow minutes walk ahead of me now to get to Halifax Minster, scene of the next highlight of Heather’s day.


Setting up for the Black Dyke Mills band in Halifax Minster

Anyway it’s time I made my way over to Halifax Minster for the brass part of the day. For me, one of the highlights of last year’s trip to England was seeing the Black Dyke Mills Band perform in their original home  – the Queensbury Mill. Tonight I have the opportunity to see the most recorded band in the world perform in a church where so many of my ancestors were married. CDs were available on a table and I half jokingly asked if it were possible to get one signed.’My name is Heather, and I’ve come all the way from California!’  ‘I’ll see what I can do” was the response. I found a seat in the fourth row of pews from the front, just behind the mayor and mayoress  and settled back for the two hour concert of hymns and lighter music such as I only have eyes for you, and Mack the IMG_6428Knife. The soloists came to stand at the front of the band and conductor Nicholas Childs connected with his audience well with little quips here and there. Imagine my surprise when he announced, ‘We have a special guest with us tonight who has come all the way from California – so we know she’s a rich lady! Where are you?’ I had no alternative but to slowly raise my hand! Some  of the musicians are still in college and the baritone soloist was making her first solo performance at the age of 18, since the leader of her section was participating in a concert at the Royal Northern School of Music. I had been concerned that the concert might sell out, but I guess going to a brass band concert is no big deal in this part of the world, even when it’s one of the most famous in the world, but there were tons of empty seats. At the end of the performance I picked up my personally signed CD.


Getting back home was a doddle. A five minute walk took me back to the bus station and the bus for Hebden Bridge was in. It’s the first time I’ve been out in the semi darkness and it was nice to see the lights of the isolated houses lit up on the hillsides. It reminded me of growing up at Affetside. I passed the Wainhouse Tower, too, with its floodlights.

Torrential rain, tea and the theatre

rainI’m cold – seriously cold for the first time on my trip. It doesn’t help that several times every minute the doors  into the market hall open to the outside and a blast of cold, wet air ruffles my hair and cools my cappuccino. I’m sitting by the outside door  in Todmorden market hall, lured into this delightful coffee bar inside by the promise of ice cream, ice lollies, frappes on this cold wet morning. Valiant shoppers clad in their finest rain gear greet each other with ‘It’s like a monsoon’ and ‘I’m getting me sandbags ready’ inside of the normal ‘Yawreet?’ – and they’re not kidding.  ‘A medium latte and a weak tea.’ Blasts from my past hit me like stray water droplets which are, incidentally, currently descending from the roof in ever increasing numbers, many of them erring in their journey and missing the strategically placed buckets on the passageway below. Well, I presume the buckets are place to catch the mini-waterfalls, though many of them seem destined to trip the unsuspecting shopper.’The usual.’


Can I buy the baker?

There’s a travel mug for sale with the word Wakey Wakey emblazoned in blue. This was the catch phrase of Billy Cotton whose band show was a regular part of Sunday dinner time on the radio at 3rd Bungalow before we got a telly in 1965.  Mr Men and Little Miss travel mugs on the shelf in front of me bring to mind my daughters’ childhoods. Bombarded by so many characters I’m trying to decide which one would suit which daughter: there’s Little Miss Chatterbox and Little Miss Princess for sure. Suddenly my table takes flight. It turns out that my ‘table’ is actually a horizontal door and my barista needs to leave for what I suppose is a non-coffee-break.


Not quite three sheets to the wind


The market stalls here bring back my own youth. Bolton market hall was a similar building, just a bigger version,  with exposed wrought iron girders supporting a glass ceiling. Butchers’ shops display  tripe, black puddings, tomato sausages and pork pies. I ask the butcher about a beef steak wrapped in pastry. “Just the ticket,” he says, “for a romantic dinner for two.” “Do you supply the man?” I asked with a straight face. Bakeries tempt with vanilla slices (ok, I succumbed)  and Manchester tart (something from the red light district perhaps?)  the baker explains with a straight face that the Manchester tarts are firmer than  Bakewell tarts. And then  the cheese shop presents me with a very difficult decision between Wensleydale with cranberries and Wensleydale with apricots. At this moment my pen gives up the ghost. “Wanna use mine?” comes from my right. “Ta.”


Can I interest you in some tripe, luv?

The display of teas  in front of me is impressive: Elderflower, Artic Fire. “I wonder if that should be Arctic?” I idly comment to the man on my left. He considers the question rather more intently than I expected and suggests that the only artic he can think of is the colloquial term for an articulated lorry. We mutually decide that  it should Arctic. Other flavors beckon me to exotic, far distant land: Russian caravan, Jasmine Flower, Todmorden water blend – well, perhaps not that one!  Coffee blends include Rwanda Cocagi cup of excellence, coffee Sulawesi, Kalossi and Brazilian Ipanema (sounds vaguely musical). This bar would not be out of place as a high end coffee bar in San Francisco. Instead the Exchange Coffee Company has shops in Clitheroe and Skipton market halls, besides this one here in Tod. After taking photos of the canisters and chatting to people on either side of me I leave. I offer the pen back to its owner. ‘Yawreet” I’m told with a smile and a thumbs up sign.


Through the doors the outside market is slowly drowning in liquid sunshine. Rain is penetrating the punnets of strawberries (fresh from Southport) while the apricots (6 for £1) appear to be stewing themselves. Only half the stalls are up and running today. I chatted to the fishmonger. His scallops attracted my attention! Well, they were bright orange. “Coral scallops from th’ Isle o’Mann. Best money cun buy,” I was reliably informed. It wouldn’t have taken much more water for his haddock and kippers to swim back unaided to the sea. Bizarrely several dozen nighties are wafting vociferously in the gathering wind waltzing their own personal version of the Todmorden rain-dance. I dodge the waist-high  spray the cars kick up as they navigate the tiny streets and head back to the bus station, my bag considerably heavier than on the outward journey. Two incidents completed the adventure. The bus was hit by a passing truck – the second such incident on this trip. Neither vehicle stopped but we did come to  a grinding halt when a tractor inadvertently pulled out of a farm track. The farmer was wearing a suit and tie – no kidding!

home agian

My finds

Later that day  I had my first excursion by bus for an evening event. I went back into Todmorden to the Hippodrome Theater to see a production of Accrington Pals by Peter Whelan. ‘The title refers to the 700 strong Accrington Battalion that march jauntily off to war in the summer of 1916.’  Last night marked the re-opening of this historic theater (1908) after last year’s floods. It’s a grand affair with a  balcony. The play was staged to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the


Hippodrome Theatre, Todmorden

battle of the Somme. It was funny, intensely moving and very well produced. One thing I didn’t expect was full male nudity. When they used an arrangement for brass band of Elgar’s Nimrod I reached for my hankie. Movingly there was no curtain call since dead soldiers don’t come back.

I’d checked on the finishing time by putting a question on the company’s Facebook page which they’d answered immediately so I knew it wasn’t scheduled to finish til 10. It was still light (ish) as I walked back to the bus station, only to find that I was the only person there for most of the half hour I had to wait. It was only a couple of minutes walk from the bus t’th’ mill so I was back home by 10:45 after a very varied day.


A slow beginning . . .

. . . to a busy day.

So today was the first day I didn’t wake up with a plan already hatched. In fact, I didn’t leave the house until after lunch – can you believe that? I thought I’d try and catch up with some family history research online since Angela had some serious doubts about my Tempests of Tong  connection, saying that she didn’t believe  the Barracloughs would have moved so far. I also tried to further my plans for what to do after I leave the mill, emailing my brother-in-law, trying a travel agent (yes, they still exist, though I haven’t used one since my trip to India in the early 80’s, and trying to figure out if I can get back by public transport if I go to a play tonight in Todmorden. So I tackled all that while having the opening games of Wimbledon on in the background.

IMG_6283After lunch I was undecided whether to take a walk in Luddenden Foot, retracing some of Branwell Brontë’s footsteps or go to find Hardcastle Crags. The latter won after I sought  advice at the tourist information center in town. It was a place that I had heard my mum talk about a lot. She may even have taken me there as a very small child but I have no recollection of it. I followed what was billed as ‘an easy walk, mainly on the flat.’ It was anything BUT flat, and what I had mistakenly thought was a gentle half hour stroll along the river (well, Beccie said it was) turned out to be a 6 1/2 mile hike.

IMG_6277I passed through the square where I saw Chris with her pro-Palestinian banners that she’d been designing last night, and then went off into the woods with my map. Within 15 minutes it started to pour down. I mean, really pour down. 2 elderly gentlemen chatting by their allotment said,’Yaw right, luv?’ and that was that! I had flights of steep narrow stone stairs to contend with, rock hopping, mud squelching, cobbled pack horse bridges as I followed the river up to Midgehole,a tiny hamlet, before entering National Trust land and the entrance to Hardcastle Crags. I followed a wide boring path that was obviously a service road, and the one mile to Gibson Mill was totally wrong. I was spurred on, however, IMG_6246.JPGby the sign that said Cafe Open til 4 p.m. It was 3:15 so I made as good a time as possible and arrived in time for tea and a wander around the weaving sheds, that had been turned into tea rooms by the time my mom went. at one time it had also served as a roller skating rink. The view from the mill pond was lovely and the reflections were perfect. I chatted with a lady who was giving directions to workmen and she apologized for the poor sign-posting at the entrance to the park. I should have followed the mill walk for a more interesting route. I did that on the way back, at one point in the darkness of the woods, besides the rushing river a pterodactyl flew overhead following the line of the water. experiencing yet another deluge as I passed the defunct bowling club.


Reflections of Gibson Mill


“In a deep gorge under palaeolithic moorland

Meditation of conifers, a hide-out of elation,

Is a grave of echoes.

Name-lists off cenotaphs tangle here to mystify

The voice of the dilapidated river.”

from Hardcastle Crags by Ted Hughes

A sketch performance of a theater production about the day of the floods ended the day. held in the town hall this was part of the Hebden Bridge festival and Chris and Beccie and couple who are AirB&B with Beccie came along too. it was brilliant, really giving a sense of the personal impact of not only the day of the flood but the huge clean up operation that is still visible in many of the businesses about town. I presume it’s just the same in people’s homes – I just can’t see it.

I’m feeling proud of myself


Salt’s Mill

Last year when I was staying with Judith we spent a day in Saltaire – a World Heritage site. A set of mills built by Titus Salt on the river Aire have been turned into lovely cafes,restaurants but the center piece is the David Hockney gallery, one’s of Bradford’s famous sons. This time I wanted to see the village  that Salt built for his workers, the almshouses, the hospital, the churches. But first I wanted to take a hike, following a map that the site produces that I had picked up somewhere on my travels. This was to be my first real hike alone and I had concerns about  getting lost, cows and five barred gates, but I’m still here to tell the tale, so I’m feeling very proud of myself.


Hiking above Salt’s mill

After a quick shufti in Salt’s Mill accompanied by tea and crumpets I set out on the hike and promptly found myself confronted with two grassy paths leading behind a barn. Ok, I took the wrong one but soon it met up with the right one and I climbed up an escarpment with great views of Saltaire below. I only passed two men out walking their dogs before meeting the towpath halfway through the hike. It obviously pays well to know your trees in this part of the world with instructions in the guide like,’with the sliver birch coppice on your left’ and ‘head for the mature trees at the top of the hill.’ The grassy paths led


A selfie on the trail

past Blaidon rocks until with one sharp turn I found myself in the middle of the same village of Blaidon, with a shop called Bagpuss, very expensive houses and a lovely little community garden.  Continuing I came to Tong dam. Dam it, I thought, I’m sure there’s some connection in my ancestry with Tong Hall, but I didn’t have the info with me, but I didn’t see any sign of Tong Hall. Eventually I crossed the River Aire via a very long bridge with some interesting spiders’ webs – Ok, now I get why it’s called Saltaire – duh – and joined the tow path of the Leeds Liverpool canal. The only TV program I’ve watched so far on this trip (apart from the UEFA cup) was a documentary about the building of the Manchester ship canal, specifically about the lives of the workers who built it.


Blaidon’s community garden

The towpath took me back to Salt’s Mill by which time my feet were tired. What a great way to get to the mill coming at it along the canal and river which was its whole raison d’être. I was ready for a cuppa and hungry too so I found a little cafe and then explored the village that Salt had built for all his employees, not just the bosses.

The bus journey back to Bradford enable a glimpse into this multi-ethic city since the schools had just finished for the day and the streets were back with kids walking home and catching buses. That’s something that’s not that common in the US since so many students are picked up in cars.

Back a’th’ mill I had time to prepare dinner – shepherd’s pie, sprouts, a cream donut and delicious pear cider – before watching England lose to Iceland 🙁


The Amazing hand-made parade

Luckily the weather stayed dry for the morning’s parade. I went up to the gathering area to see the participants assembling, the bands rehearsing and the dancers practicing their routines. There were lots of stilt walkers who had to negotiate big muddy puddles and  potholed streets. I think the photos speak for themselves, though I’d love to know how many people were in the parade, and how many tourists packed into this small town. I heard several conversations about the parking problems onlookers were having, and the main road came to a complete standstill. Drivers were getting out of their cars to view the show. A bus was completely stuck, unable to move.

I took my first  nap of the trip after all the excitement – stimulation overload! I woke up to find Chris, Paula and Beccie had set up an ice-cream, cake and cookie stall on the tow path right under our window. They were raising money for cancer research and they had a constant stream of customers returning from the parade. Beccie is raising money for a sponsored bicycle ride through Cambodia.


Canal scene

I looked up buses to various places to spend the evening but Sunday services are the pits. So I decided to walk to the next town Mytholmroyd. As I left it began to pour down, and stayed that way until I got back an hour and a half later. I listened to music from my phone

as I walked, passing through the village but decided to give up and retrace my steps when I got to a modern industrial estate. A few days ago I asked someone if they were from


Art work on a disused mill

Hebden Bridge. ‘Oh no, we’re not from this area. We’re from Mytholmroyd.’ It’s all of one and a half  miles away!


In the evening I managed to connected with Sarah and Danny through Facebook’sIMG_6080IMG_6079IMG_6077IMG_6076IMG_6078 messenger – thank you, Danny. It’s free! The phone calls I’d made back home were costing me a pound per minute.



Journal writing in the town square this morning


Feeling like a drowned rat after my hike in the pouring rain – but a happy rat all the same!

Merry Christmas

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When the devastating floods hit Hebden Bridge and the other Calder Valley towns on Boxing Day 2015 many people’s Christmas was washed away – literally. So today the town celebrated Christmas. There were brass bands, choirs singing carols, the shops had Christmas displays in their windows. Jugglers, angels on stilts were scattered through the town and several band stages were set up. One of my favorite was a young lad playing a ukelele. He appeared to be about 13. he writes and sings his own songs and has 2 CDs out – such poise. The town was packed. Lines for ice-cream snaked around the bouncy castles, a climbing wall echoed the outlines of the factory chimneys beyond and folks wearing their best Christmas jumpers stood patiently in line at the fish and chip shop.

I began the day at the outdoor market where I saw black pudding pies – apparently they’re  ‘good sellers’ and then I went on to try Vimto flavored fudge – ugh- and gingerbread fudge which has chunks of gingerbread biscuits in. A pudding lady was giving out samples of delicious Christmas pudding and the RSPB was giving away hedgehogs to anyone becoming a member.

I made a house out of clay which will go on display in the Town hall later this year. I cut out a washing line full of trousers  from music manuscript paper to add to a collage celebrating trouser town. I watched children playing with old-time toys, people adding their homes on IMG_5821 (1)a giant map (for a blue plaque ceremony) and helped to colour in a giant drawing of the town. I drew myself on it and labeled it ‘Crazy Californian lady!’ I was photographed and  interviewed by the festival event people.


In the evening I attended a sort of drama  production where 5 people of varying ages told of their associations with trouser town.I was joined at my table by three delightful ladies who had grown up in the area and were happy to tell me takes of their working lives. I ended up

talking at length to the owners of the original mill building. It’s been a labor of love for 40 years, saving the mill, with its medieval origins, from demolition. David and Hilary Fletcher told me a great story about their adventures in the Tenderloin of San Francisco

and their visit to Monterey. They’ve also traveled extensively through South and central America, and through the former Soviet block countries. They apologized that they couldn’t invite me to their home but they’re leaving for another trip on Monday!

Secret corners of Halifax

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:

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.


Out of Darkness

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


Halifax Market Hall

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


Workers cottages below  Wainhouse Tower

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 mid-terrace pub

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

crossley heath schoolHogwart’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.

Bounding round Brighouse

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Brighouse before, though I’m very familiar with its name being one half of the prize-winning Brighouse and Rastrick brass band. I could get a through train to the town and then it was just a 15 minute walk to Wellborn park where the walk, put on by the Calderdale council was to start from. I arrived with lunch, water bottle, sun hat, raincoat, hiking boots, but was very surprised when I realized I needed sun tan lotion too! Luckily there was a tube at the bottom of my rucksack.


There were 16 of us on the hike which was took in part of the 22 mile circular walk around the town which was devised years ago by Peter, one of today’s hikers. We were only hiking 7 1/2 miles. There were some very steep tracks, narrow passageways with nettles up to our ears. I enjoyed the company of several of the hikers, one of whom, Don, was a wealth of knowledge on old Halifax. In the 1950’s he’d gone around taking photos of ancient buildings that were about to be demolished. Straight off the bat he mentioned Gaol Lane, IMG_5414where George Gledhill had lived but which has been demolished. Don remembers one up, one down houses there in which a family of six would live. He knew of Bath Street, where members of my family lived and gave me some ideas of where to find out more information about the baths after which it was named. Lunch was taken sitting on the

grass. We passed the gatehouse to Titus Salt’s estate, the mill owner who brought alpaca into the woollen trade, thus causing my great great grandfather’s death. the mansion itself was demolished due to dry rot, and is now a golf course. In Salt’s  day the estate was 700 acres. Another fascinating feature were the  2 walls built of incredibly large stones which were quarried there by Marshall’s. I felt as if I was in an Inca temple. There were remnants of the rails that were used to transport the stones. You could see the drilling marks where the powder was put to detonate the explosives to separate the blocks of stone. Later I found that the pathway is supposedly haunted.IMG_5651

IMG_5610When the walk was over interestingly the people who chose to go to get a drink at the local hostelry were the women – hmmm. They chose a Methodist church which has been converted by Wetherspoons into a large pub! The organ and gallery are still intact – quite stunning, in fact.


A trip to the Co-op for food supplies ended the day relatively early for me. I have another hike planned for tomorrow.

A day in Bradford

The day began with a series of frustrations. My phone SIM card was out of data even though I had topped it up only 2 days ago. I tried to book a ticket for Black Dyke Mills band’s performance in Halifax Minster but was told that I’d have to come to the minster to purchase a ticket, even though their website said that tickets were available by phone. My pin number for my Lloyd’s bank card has still not arrived, even though 10 days ago the bank told me it would arrive in 5 days. Still, looking on the positive side, I’ve been here for 9 days  without reality kicking in 🙂

A half hour rain journey brought me to  Bradford. I remember my mother-in-law really liking Bradford and its museums. I was there to see an organ recital at the cathedral. In the railway station 4 displays stood side-by-side featuring Bradford’s best-known sons and daughters: David Hockney, the Brontës, Titus Salt and Black Dyke Mills band. I hadn’t reckoned on the piped music in the station bathroom being brass band music!

I asked two passers-by which direction was the cathedral but neither knew – interesting. I followed my nose and found it. I doesn’t have the dominating effect that most cathedrals hold in a city center. I knew there was a buffet for 3 pounds that preceded the weekly recital but I hadn’t expect it to be so extravagant.

The young organist , 27, was Richard Brasier,  a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in London. He has a wide reputation for producing “brilliant”, “inspiring” and “top notch” performances, and is quickly establishing himself as “one of the most dynamic young organists of his generation.” And he was amazing. He played 20th century music – Vierne, Rousseau and Durufle. Martin Waters was just putting the finishing touches to his art installation: ‘Fallen’ a poppy installation commemorating the centenary of the Bradford  Pals’ Battle of the Somme using thousands of British Legion poppies. ‘As I walked through this beautiful building the words of the old memorials echo in my thoughts, solemn and sad yet heroic and commemorated, lost but still loved.’ A table was filled with What’s on brochures. One invited anyone interested to work on a tapestry that will go on display in the cathedral. I hope I can do that. Across the street was Kalasangam, a gallery of South Asian intercultural arts. A particularly liked this interactive dance display: Can you spot me?

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I called at the Tourist information center and asked what they would recommend I see during the next hour. I helpful man directed me to the fountains (directly outside the magistrates’ court) where I spent a half hour watching the frolicking. I also checked out a large shopping mall in the city center.

IMG_5361-2In the evening the special light was bringing its warmth to the canal so I took a stroll for half an hour, timing my dinner perfectly for the Ireland v Italy UEFA soccer game. Chris got very excited during the game despite claiming she never watches it.






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