Taking a tour of the 
‘front garden of Halifax’

The Crescent, Hipperholme
The Crescent, Hipperholme

The Leeds and Whitehall Road through Hipperholme was completed in 1833 and offered an alternative route to Leeds other than the much older Wakefield Road.

During the reign of Queen Victoria, Lightcliffe was often referred to as the front garden of Halifax, with its large imposing mansions, Victorian Gentleman’s residences and villas each with their own well tendered garden, estate or park.

The Crescent at Hipperholme is a fine example of the Victorian middle class properties.

These 28 houses were built c1863 by a building society for the sole purpose of the so-called middle classes, who would pay no more than an annual rent of £15.

Looking at the properties today little from the outside seems to have changed.

The entrance way, although the big gates as seen in this week’s featured photograph have long since gone, is typical (a gated community) of the period.

In the nineteenth century those large imposing gates would be closed to everyone.

Callers who had business in The Crescent would have to show their business card at the gate and, of course, any tradesmen calling would enter via the back entrance.

Each house was large enough to have its own servants - not a house full like some of the larger mansions in the area but just one or two or perhaps some that would be daily help.

One young employee 19- year-old Laura Alice Parkinson who worked as a domestic servant at number 10, died suddenly at the bottom of The Crescent, while another young girl committed suicide by poisoning herself in another of the houses.

Many residents have moved in and out of The Crescent over years, and the removal costs when the Reverend Diggle left in December 1919 amounted to 14 shillings.

With removal costs now being a small fortune and houses in The Crescent costing significantly more than their original costs, it is hard to imagine what the Victorians would think today.

Many years ago I rang an estate agent to come and view my home for one of the free valuations on offer in those days.

When I said that I lived in Lightcliffe there was a distinctive rise in the tone of his voice which gave me some optimism I might get a good price.

But that was soon dashed when I said that I lived at the Bailiffe Bridge end.

The sound in his voice took a distinct turn downwards. ‘Oh, that end. You’d get a better price if it was at the other end. You know, near The Stray or The Crescent.’

That summed it up for me, just as it no doubt did for those Victorian builders when they were thinking about an address with a certain ring to it or what some might refer today as a ‘must have postcode.’