The larger Pennine Yorkshire towns hold some hidden treasures indeed, particularly architectural gems. The outstanding late Georgian and Victorian architecture in Halifax is a feast for the eyes and you can download Halifax Town Trail guides via the Halifax Tourist webguide link to make sure you appreciate the full spectrum of Halifax's architectural gems.
Architect Charles Barry was commissioned for Halifax's magnificent Victorian town hall dating from 1863 whilst late Georgian historic Piece Hall first opened in 1779 as a market centre for handloom weavers to sell their cloth. Halifax's Victorian Borough Market contains stunning decorative iron work whilst Victoria Theatre, originally late Victorian Victoria Hall situated on Commercial street dates from 1901. The spectacular mammoth Dean Clough Mill site in Halifax was once home to the world's largest carpet manufacturers Crossley Carpets. Today it's a vibrant mix of art galleries, chic restaurants and cafes, the acclaimed Viaduct Theatre and a host of specialist arts shops.
Today Piece Hall is the site for the Halifax Visitor Centre and numerous specialist shops (find some outstanding second hand bookshops here), and holds a fleamarket in the courtyard every Thursday and open markets on Fridays and Saturdays. Within the grounds of Akroyd Park visit the nationally acclaimed Bankfield Museum for an important collection of textiles, costumes and contemporary arts and crafts.
One of Yorkshire's best attractions for children is in Halifax. Eureka! The Museum of Children is hands-on rip roaring fun all the way particularly aimed at tots under 11 years. Look to the Calderdale Region's Tourist webguide to download leaflets on the fascinating industrial heritage and new exciting contemporary and cultural centres in the Calderdale region with its main centres Halifax (the Calderdale region's capital), Hebden Bridge and Todmorden.
Historic weavers market centre Piece Hall is the heart of Halifax, and a good place to start your exploration of this attraction rich Pennine Town. The Halifax visitor centre with on-site art gallery is here, alongside a superb choice of shops (over 40) around the courtyard including antiques, printing and embroidering, books, beers and wines, off the wall clothing boutiques, collectables and fine cosmetics. Checkout the Piece Hall webguide link right for comprehensive shop listings. Plenty of chic cafes, sandwich and smoothie bars and tearooms are here too! Piece Hall is a popular spot for picnics and lunches in fine weather.
Piece Hall has had a selection of names since it first opened as a weavers' cloth selling courtyard in 1779 including Manufacturers' Hall and Cloth Hall. Once one of many such market cloth halls scattered across Northern England, Piece Hall stands now as one of the few remaining in existence today.
The central courtyard is a Halifax hotspot for events throughout the year including bike rallies, musical events, the Halifax Irish Festival and Battle of the Bands. Since 2006 seasonal Ice Skating has also been on the menu here at Piece Hall. For event listings see the Hall's webguide.
Halifax Visitor Centre and Art Gallery, Piece Hall, Halifax HX1 1RE. Tel. 01422 368725.
As you approach Halifax, Dean Clough - formally the world's largest Victorian Carpet Mill, fills the skyline. This is Halifax's colossal centre for the arts. From one end to the other the site measures two-thirds of a mile! It was the Crossley Carpets name that once sat atop Dean Clough. Renowned worldwide, Crossleys employed around 4000 people at one time and it was here that acclaimed inventor/designer George Collier developed a new powerloom for weaving carpets which literally revolutionised carpet production.
The largest of the Dean Clough contemporary art spaces is aptly named the Crossley Gallery and is a hub for cutting edge large scale contemporary art and textile exhibitions. It's also sometimes used for venue for jazz. Move upstairs to the Mosaic Galleries for smaller displays which have included in the past work by the the likes of genius Burnley born illustrator Paul Slater. A photography gallery is also here, with work by both local and well known photographers.
Dean Clough's permanent art collection is impressive and includes work by David Hockney, The Art Junkies and photography by Bill Brandt and Martin Parr. Find much of this permanent collection on display in a corridor near the Mosaic Galleries. For full listings of what's on and constantly changing art exhibitions see Dean Clough's comprehensive webguide.
Free admission daily, and easy adjacent parking. The Viaduct Cafe Bar, Design House Restaurant, The Viaduct Theatre, Day Nursery and Design Shop are all within the complex. Deal Clough, Halifax HX3 5AX. Tel. 01422 250 250.
Originally known as Victoria Hall, the historic very late Victorian Victoria Theatre dates from 1901. Today this Halifax theatre is a popular Calderdale venue for music extravaganzas, concerts and comedy. From the outside the theatre looks deceptively small, it actually seats a huge 1568. Checkout the Victoria Theatre's webguide right for forthcoming programme and how to book.
Halifax's cutting edge theatre - The Viaduct sits within the Dean Clough Mill site. A more atmospheric theatre you'd be hard pushed to find - The Viaduct often sells out its performances which include music concerts, opera, alternative rock gigs, comedy and contemporary drama usually with a twist. Renowned theatre groups and performances from elsewhere in Yorkshire such as Malton's The Shed and The Hull Truck company often tour here at the Viaduct. For forthcoming performances checkout the What's on section of the Dean Clough webguide. The IOU Theatre Company (webguide right) offer a completely unique brand of visual theatre and they are based here at The Viaduct Theatre in Halifax.
Box Office, The Victoria Theatre, Fountain Street, Halifax HX1 1BP. Box Office Tel. 01422 351158.
Viaduct Theatre Box Office at Dean Clough Tel. 01422 255266.
The Eureka Museum for Children in Halifax is a fantastic interactive experience aimed particularly at children 11 years and under. It's perfectly placed by Halifax Railway station and has an adjacent huge car park. Kids want to interact, run around, play and touch things in museums and at Eureka they can do all these to the max! Eureka is fun with an educational slant. Inside kids can discover how the body and senses works in the 'Me & My Body' section, with the help of Scoot the Robot - watch out for the giant teeth!
The 'Our Global Garden gallery' includes the Town Garden (Alan Tichmarsh is the voice of Gordon the Gnome), The Jungle Garden and The Ideas Garden where kids can now plant their own garden ideas!
There's some special treats for the under 5's here at Eureka! including the Sound Garden (take a close look at this via the Eureka webguide) and the magical Desert Discovery. Very young children will adore the Early Years Activity Room open in the afternoons only with specially trained Early Years staff on-hand. Anyone who's taken their kids to Eureka will tell you it's one of the best attractions for children around!
Eureka! The Museum For Children, Discovery Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 2NE. Tel. 01422 330069.
Halifax's eclectic mix of historic buildings is simply outstanding. The renowned Bankfield Museum in Halifax is set within a Victorian mill owners house and is home to an exciting exhibition of textiles and contemporary crafts. The Duke of Wellington's Regiment Museum is also within Bankfield. Admission is free, open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 5pm, Sundays 1pm to 4pm.
Bankfield Museum, Akroyd Park, Boothtown Road, Halifax HX3 6HG. Tel 01422 354823/352334. See the Calderdale Region's tourist webguide for more details.
The Square Chapel in the heart of the centre, now converted arts centre, dates from 1772 and is a rare example of a Square Chape designed by Thomas Bradley. Inside the tastefully renovated auditorium has superb acoustics and hosts music performances. The venue also includes a popular bar. Square Chapel Arts Centre, 10 Square Road, Halifax, HX1 1QG. Tel. 01422 349422.
The Wainhouse Tower in the King Cross area is distinct in the Halifax skyline. This folly was originally intended as a chimney channelling smoke from a nearby dyehouse. Designed by Isaac Booth the chimney has a spiral staircase leading upto the balcony. The Wainhouse Tower became locally known as the 'Tower of Spite' resulting from a feud between Sir Henry Edwards and Victorian Industrialist John Edward Wainhouse. Edwards had boasted that no house in the area could achieve a view of his private grounds, so Wainhouse put a observatory on the top of the tower.