A sneak peek into Halifax’s history

The Piece Hall, Halifax.
The Piece Hall, Halifax.

Illegal cock fighting, an infamous gang, and a ‘street in the sky’ are just some of the history which will be revealed to the public during the Heritage Festival this September.

From September 10 to 13, visitors can go behind the scenes at landmarks such as Illingworth Gaol and The Piece Hall to discover Halifax’s chequered past.

One event which looks set to draw crowds is the Hidden Gems Tour, which takes visitors to landmarks like Borough Market’s ‘street in the sky’ and a disused cock-fighting ring at the town’s oldest pub.

Adrian Rose, one of the tour’s organisers and the council’s former regeneration manager, said: “This is the third year we’ve run the tours and each year they become more popular.

“Local people find that there are a number of interesting points in Halifax they never knew existed.

“This year it’s a special treat to be able to go inside The Piece Hall and see the work in progress.”

Another fascinating historical insight on offer at the festival will be the opening of Illingworth Gaol, a former jail built to accommodate a surge of criminal activity in the 1800s.

David Parkin, of North Halifax Historic Buildings Preservation Trust, said: “It appears that the gaol was built with an unusually large number of cells in anticipation of catching the Ovenden Gang, a group of notorious thieves.”

Visitors are urged to book Hidden Gems Tours in advance on the Minster website.