Halifax, West Yorkshire (Not Nova Scotia…)

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.13.44Think of Halifax and most people think of a bank. Some (especially those online when using the hashtag #Halifax) assume we are talking Nova Scotia. When I think of Halifax I think of the place where I was born; the nearest large town to where I spent the first two decades of my life; the place that I have regularly visited when returning to see family in decades three and four; and the place where, in decade five (that doesn’t mean I’m 50 by the way – think about it!), I have once again decided to call ‘home’. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post – Halifax Meets Paris, Copenhagen, Oslo (And 20 Other Places) – my intention was to set off and do in Halifax what I did earlier in the year as I cycled across Europe. That is, to take photographs of it. Here are the results, split into four distinct galleries…

1. Halifax West. The bit dominated by the 70s angular modernity of the former headquarters of the Halifax Building Society (now just another large, provincial office building for the ‘Lloyds Bank Group’) which rises above and in stark contrast to the rest of Commercial Street, made up of grand Victorian offices, shops and the Victoria Theatre. As you head further north however, the splendour declines somewhat until, suddenly, the hulk of the new Vue cinema appears. Let’s hope that over the next few years it drags that end of the town into the 21st century…

2. Halifax Dean Clough. Casual visitors to Halifax are unlikely ever to stumble upon the sprawling Dean Clough complex that used to be, until the early 1980s, the Crossley’s Carpet Factory,  in its heyday the largest carpet factory in the World. In the last 30 years it has, however, reinvented itself; offices interspersed with galleries, bars and restaurants, a fashion retailer, a hotel, a theatre and even a large steel bird perching over the complex from the road heading north to Keighley and beyond… The Lego model of the entire site (still under construction) is in itself worth the 5 minute stroll under the Burdock Way from the centre of the town.

3. Halifax Central. The main shopping area where again, Victoriana dominates albeit interspersed with the occasional block of Tudor timber frame (now, inevitably, a coffee shop), 1930s marble (now the McDonalds), 1960s concrete (a rather shabby Tesco’s) and striking, if rather unloved, 1990s modernity (the soon-to-be-demolished Central Library). The indoor market is the centrepiece and despite the ‘attractions’ of the nearby chain shops, it remains a busy place with, as far as I could see, not a single empty stall. Renovation of council offices is underway to the north and to the south is a smart covered street – the Westgate Arcade – where cafe society is well and truly established.

4. Halifax East. The oldest part of town and the most unexpected… The tucked away train station (now home to part of the Eureka children’s museum) is itself a little surprising when you peer over the cobbled bridge that now acts as the forecourt to the much more modest modern station entrance, but that’s not all. Glance behind you and you see the 1897 Halifax Flour Society Mill and the blackened Minster church (“too delicate to clean” according to the chap I spoke to). Cross the road and you have the soon-to-be-enlarged Square Chapel Centre for the Arts and adjacent ruined spire, itself soon-to-be incorporated within the new Central Library, the Orange Box centre, formerly (and appropriately) in a building that used to sell fruit and veg and… The Piece Hall. Currently closed for £18 million worth of renovation work. If the rest of the town doesn’t attract you, this 18th century colonnaded piazza, when reopened in 2016, will.

 

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