Hidden history of Halifax unveiled as part of heritage event

Piece Hall, Halifax
Piece Hall, Halifax

Halifax’s hidden gems are set to be revealed in all their historic glory thanks to a special tour.

The tour – either by foot or bus – has been organised by Halifax Minster with the aim of promoting tourism in the town.

They will allow those taking part to delve into the fascinating history of the town and uncover some surprises along the way.

The walking tours, which take around two hours and take place today, tomorrow and Sunday, begin at Halifax Town Hall and finish at the Minster with a cup of tea or coffee – and an optional climb to the top of the Minster tower.

There are four 45 minute bus tours, taking place over Saturday and Sunday and they start and finish at the Minster. The tour will take in Marlborough Hall and Union Cross Hotel, Halifax’s oldest surviving public house which dates back almost five centuries.

The Upper George Yard, also on the itinerary, was the place to be in the Swinging Sixties. This was the site of the Plebeians Jazz Club from 1961 to 1968, where in a packed room, it hosted artists such as Rod Stewart, the Skatellites and Jimmy Cliff and Shakedown Story.

A building like no other with an equally unique and fascinating past, The Piece Hall is offering several chances for visitors to learn more about the former cloth hall as part of the national Heritage Open Days and local Halifax Heritage Festival.

The hall was once home to a wholesale market wholesale market and had one famous worker – Shirley Crabtree – who went on to find fame as professional wrestler Big Daddy.

Workers were said to have carried 100lb weight bags of potatoes on their shoulders between two men and apparently Shirley’s trick was to carry a 100lb bag in just one hand.

The itinerary is as follows: Heritage Tours, Friday 7 & 14, Saturday 8 & 15 & Sunday 9 & 16 September: 11am, noon, 1.45pm, 3.30pm. Free (booking advised); Stories from The Wholesale Market, September 8 to November 2, Oral History Exhibition, Community Gallery, 10 am to 6pm daily; Stories from The Wholesale Market opening weekend, Saturday 8 & Sunday 9 September, Pop-up on Colonnade Level, Free/Drop-in, 10am to 6pm daily; Saturday 8 & Sunday 9 September, Roll up, Roll up! Vegetable Creatures, 10.30am – 3pm, £3 (drop-in), The Courtyard; The Blondin Gala family activities, Saturday September 15, workshops last 1 hour, 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2pm, £6 per child (booking advised), The Courtyard; The Blondin Gala, Saturday September 15, 6.30pm to 10.30pm; General admission £12, general admission family ticket (4 people), £42.

Peter Davies, Brighouse Civic Trust’s Footpaths Officer will lead a 90-minute walk around Brighouse, starting from Thornton Square at 10.30am today (Fri).

The walk goes alongside the Calder & Hebble canal towards the railway station.

There will be chance to view Brighouse’s hidden gem – the impressive mayoral dias by woodcarver HP Jackson of Coley, which is now housed in the Civic Hall. The walk finishes at the Smith Art Gallery & Library.

You can also look round St John the Baptist Church, Coley, and its graveyard, which will be open on September 14, 15 and 16 from 1pm to 4pm. Visitors will be made welcome at the usual Sunday services.