I ended up with a North East Rover Ticket – see the Northern Rail website for a ticket that means you can go on lots of lovely trains. On Tuesday 12 January 2016 I had had a meeting in Bradford, got back to the station, found there was a train to Halifax, and I have a Rover Ticket. From Halifax my plan was to head to Huddersfield, then (eventually) to Sheffield. But my train from Bradford just misses the train to Hudderfield … so I found I had 54 minutes in Halifax – no jokes about second prize being 55 minutes in Halifax.
I walked along to the Minster, which is quite a pile. I should have checked their website, as they are currently closed for inside work, reopening on Palm Sunday. Their website has a superb access statement – I have never seen one this good – but nothing about the history of the building. Wikipedia tells me this building dates from 1438.
It also tells me that their first organist was William Herschel the astronomer. In 2014 I visited his house (actually the house he shared with his sister Caroline) in Bath which was fascinating – I was about to write “they discovered Uranus in their garden”, but you know what I mean. I knew he was a musician, and have a CD of his oboe concertos. I had not realised he had been a musician in Newcastle, Sunderland and Halifax.
Just across a very busy road is this spire and the Square Chapel – website – now an arts’ centre with nice little café. The original square chapel was built in 1772 under the leadership of the Reverend Titus Knight. He was one of those whose life and faith was transformed by the Evangelical Revival of John Wesley and others. Eventually the work expanded into a new chapel next door – it is quite a spire – but everything had come to an end by the 1980s, and the chapel was falling into disrepair. It became an arts’ centre and the first concerts featured hard hats and blankets to keep the audience warm. The hall has slowly been renovated and improved – now there is a fascinating programme of events, and big plans for the future.
The bicycle is part of a Woolly Bike Trail. Sadly the original pulpit pushed into a corner of the café, but the woodwork is rather fine. I would like to come back to see something (play, concert or film), to admire the architecture of the hall – and to visit the rest of the town.
The modern Halifax station is on the left of the photo, while the original station building is fantastic. It was designed by Thomas Butterworth for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and opened in 1855. The 1884 signal box stands on the north side of the current station.