Calderdale's largest town, Halifax has an abundance of stunning Victoria architecture and boasts a rich industrial heritage.
Halifax has been awarded the prestigious Purple Flag Award for several years in a row, which recognises both great entertainment and hospitality. The award is only given to towns and cities that meet or surpass standards of excellence and Halifax definitely does that.
The West Yorkshire town is home to some amazing attractions including Eureka! The National Children’s Museum and The Piece Hall – a grade I listed building and the oldest remaining cloth hall in Britain, now a contemporary leisure, retail, cultural and heritage destination.
On 5 May stage 4 of the TDY will depart from the stunning Piece Hall, and as well as the cycling there is plenty to enjoy on the day. The Piece Hall will host an afternoon programme of entertainment including Halifax’s number one sea shanty band The Landlubbers and Jump, Jive & Wail who will perform swinging hits from the 1920s through to the 60s. In the courtyard kids can get creative with lots of fun bike-themed crafts including badge making, key ring making and canvas bag decorating. Crafters from the buildings resident Spin a Yarn group will be spinning some colourful pom poms and letter ‘Y’s to celebrate the tour, and alongside The Piece Hall’s resident food and drink spots there will be pop-ups from La Tradizione, Roast and Wrap, Toast of Harrogate, Fishfinger Bar and Zorba.
The Grandest Ever Grand Départ of the Tour de France visited Halifax back in 2014 and Calderdale has also been visited by the Tour de Yorkshire in 2015 and 2017.
One of the most iconic moments of the Tour de Yorkshire came in 2017’s race as the peloton went through Calderdale and up the notorious Shibden Wall.
This 0.8km climb at a 15.5% gradient was described beforehand as a ‘cobbled brute’ and ‘a beast’ and it was exactly that. The crowds turned out in force as the cyclists powered up the climb and supported them through every turn of the tyres.
The world-famous singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was born in 1991 in Halifax and has gone on to break world-records and win an insane amount of awards.
Despite moving away at a young age, the influential, record-breaking artist will always have ties to West Yorkshire.
Best known for co-presenting the BBC children’s programme Blue Peter in the 60s and 70s, John Noakes was the show’s longest-serving presenter, with a tenure that amassed 12 years and 6 months.
The name Shirley Crabtree may not be instantly recognisable to some but his record-breaking 64-inch chest, Adonis-like build and pseudonym Big Daddy definitely will be.
Initially a villain, Big Daddy teamed up with Giant Haystacks and quickly became a fan favourite,
Matt Wolfenden, born in Norwood Green is best known for his role as David Metcalfe in Emmerdale.
In 2012 Wolfenden became king of the ice when he partnered Nina Ulanova in the seventh series of Dancing on Ice, with a gymnastic and dance background he went on to win the series.
Percy Shaw OBE
Reflecting roadstuds aka ‘Cat’s Eyes’ were invented by Percy Shaw, who was from Halifax. Over 1 million Cat’s Eyes are produced each year and are found worldwide. The Halifax-born inventor patented this ingenious invention back in 1934 and began to make them in the town. However, initially it was difficult to get the local authorities to buy into his idea and it wasn’t until the blackout during the Second World War that this invention was widely adopted for use on UK roads.
Iconic Landmarks of Past and present
The Piece Hall in Halifax is one of the most extraordinary buildings in Britain and was reopened in August 2017 after a multi-million-pound restoration. The beating heart of a world-class cultural quarter, The Piece Hall is a unique Grade I listed building dating back to 1779, originally built to support the trading of ‘pieces’ of cloth.
There is nowhere like it in the world. This monumental structure is the only surviving intact cloth hall in the UK and an iconic symbol of the important role played by Georgian Halifax at the booming centre of the world’s woollen trade.
The town of Halifax is home to one of Yorkshire’s six national museums in the form of Eureka! The National Children’s Museum.
It is the only fully interactive museum totally dedicated to children aged 0-11 anywhere in the UK and nothing is behind a glass cabinet! With over 400 interactive, hands-on exhibits designed to inspire enquiring minds to find out about themselves and the world around them, this attraction is fantastic for family fun.
Set in the picturesque Shibden valley, a mile from Halifax, Shibden Hall dates back to 1420 and offers visitors a fascinating journey through the lives of the people who lived and worked here, including the noted diarist Anne Lister (1791 - 1840).
The hall’s architecture is a mix of styles reflecting its interesting and varied history and is surrounded by the beautifully restored gardens and estate that forms Shibden Park.
The Minster that was built around 900 years ago by Benedictine Monks is a place that belongs to the whole community. Everyone is welcomed to experience the rich depth of heritage and spirituality that this magnificent Minster brings to the town.
Nearby Bike Libraries
Active Calderdale Bike Library
Calderdale Council and West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service are working in collaboration to deliver two Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries. The bike libraries are located at Halifax Fire Station and Illingworth Fire Station. They offer free bike loans for children and families, as well as bike safety advice, affordable bike repairs, servicing and Bikeability courses.
Old and unwanted bikes can be donated at the bike libraries, where they will be repaired before being loaned out to children and families who don’t have bikes of their own.
The project will encourage more people to cycle and be more active, helping to achieve the vision for Calderdale to be the Most Active Borough in the North of England by 2021.
Happy Days Bike Library is located at Happy Days Cycle Café in Sowerby Bridge. Happy Days is a social enterprise, all profits go towards funding their work amongst the homeless in West Yorkshire. Bike Library loans are available during open hours. Monthly guided rides take place and learn to cycle sessions.
Tour de Yorkshire riders and fans will know all about the notorious climb in Shibden thanks to last year’s gruelling route but it was in the 1988 Milk Race that gave the name Shibden Wall to the challenging climb up 910 metres of cobbles. That year’s route took in five Yorkshire towns and cities in the form of Sheffield, Barnsley, Bradford, Hull and Doncaster and was eventually won by Vasyl Zhdanov of Russia.
There is also a top sportive that takes place in the area. 2017 saw the sixth running of the Ronde Van Calderdale (RVC), a race that continues to win praise for a well signed route, amazing scenery, the friendly nature of its local volunteers and the support for every rider taking part.
This year had two ride lengths, the ever popular 72 mile ride and a new medium route of 50+ miles. Both of the rides include testing climbs, native to this area of the world and test the skills, stamina and endurance of every rider.
This is a unique event in the UK sportive calendar, with all proceeds going to help develop riders from Kirklees Cycling Academy; as they aim to help riders fulfil their potential.
A person from Halifax is known as a Haligonian.
In 1091 Halifax was recorded as Halyfax meaning ‘area of coarse grass in the nook of land’. Another theory is that if means ‘Holy Flax’ (Holy Hair) in reference to the severed head of John the Baptist, which according to a medieval story is buried under Halifax Minster.
William Herschel who discovered Uranus was also the first organist at St John the Baptist Church now known as Halifax Minster.
Emily Brontë worked as a governess at Miss Patchett's Ladies Academy at Law Hill School, Southowram, near Halifax between 1838 and 1839. Emily is reported as saying that she preferred the dog at Law Hill to the pupils!
The suspected earliest execution at Halifax Gibbet was in 1286. Over 63 executions took place between 1276 and 1650. The French guillotine was not invented until 1789, this was a similar method of execution.
Wainhouse Tower (aka The Tower of Spite) is 275 ft tall and claimed to be the tallest folly in the world.
Nestle/Rowntree Mackintosh has had a factory in Halifax since 1890. John Mackintosh and his wife first opened a shop back in 1890 and expanded into bigger facilities. After John’s death, his son Harold took over the business and in 1936 invented the chocolates that the UK has come to know and love, Quality Street; which are still manufactured in the same facility today.
Halifax Town Hall and The Houses of Parliament have something in common - they were both designed by Sir Charles Barry.
In 1863, 85,000 people gathered at Halifax Railway Station to see the then Prince of Wales making the 1st ever Royal visit to Halifax.
Halifax actor Wilfred Pickles read the BBC news during World War 2 and was asked to keep his Yorkshire accent to make it harder for the Nazis to understand him.
The impressive Piece Hall was only open for trade for two hours a week to trade ‘pieces’ of cloth in its hey day.