Heritage festival opens the doors on a weekend filled with history and memories

A series of engaging events and activities unearthed Halifax’s rich history and shone a spotlight on the town’s hidden gems.

The Halifax Heritage Festival returned for a second year and there was stacks to take in across the four-day event,

Heritage Weekend and 200th anniversary at Mount Zion Church. Pictured are Georgie Stirrat, Pat Varney, Ros Greenwood and Paula Prosser

Heritage Weekend and 200th anniversary at Mount Zion Church. Pictured are Georgie Stirrat, Pat Varney, Ros Greenwood and Paula Prosser

The event brought 20 heritage sites together and more than 60 walks, tours, viewings, exhibitions and live music events took place across the weekend.

It coincided with the national heritage festival, Heritage Open Days, which saw venues across Calderdale, including All Saints Church Elland, open their doors.

The Vicar of Halifax Hilary Barber, chair of Marketing Halifax, said: “It was fantastic and busy for everyone with lots of visitors for the town, including people who came from outside of Yorkshire.

“We had about 1,000 people through the Minster and that’s just one example. The Hidden Gems tours which took in police cells under the town hall and the streets in the sky were fully booked one week before.

“We want to make the weekend even bigger and better next year.”

Guided tours explored the jewels in the town’s crown, including the intricate splendour of Halifax Town Hall, its underground police cells and the ‘streets in the sky’, the beauty of the Minster, plus previews inside the Piece Hall.

Visitors heard about the history of the former wool market and the plans for its future.

There was a nostalgic trip down memory lane at The Woolshops where an exhibition of old prints and photographs showed how the shopping complex used to look.

Local historian David Glover also delivered a presentation of pre-1980s heritage slides at Square Chapel Centre for the Arts and headed up tours around Lister Lane Cemetery, with a chance to see a ‘Lusitania’ connection grave and hear tales and stories from the past.

The Minster was open for tours and visitors were thrilled on Saturday night at a concert featuring James Shepherd ‘Versatile Brass’, Halifax Young Singers and the Black Dyke Youth Trombone Quartets. At Shibden Hall, visitors could explore the the historic house and hear about its most famous resident, Anne Lister, and it was a special date for Mount Zion Church, Illingworth, which celebrated its 200th anniversary with a range of displays.

Visitors to Dean Clough could enjoy guided talks around the space, walk through the gallery and watch demonstrations with props and theatre pieces.

And in Boothtown, the stunning All Souls Church was opened on Sunday for the once-a-year Evensong service.

The festival’s pinnacle event saw the Halifax Civic Trust’s guest speaker Jill Liddington talk about the Suffragette movement at the town hall.