Wainhouse Tower, built in the 19th century and standing at 253ft tall, is one of the most prominent landmarks in Calderdale. Visitors can walk up its 403 steps in order to see a magnificent view of the district.
The original concept came from John Edward Wainhouse who owned the Washer Lane Dyeworks, which he had inherited from his uncle in 1854. At the time, Halifax Corporation was urgently trying to implement measures to control the amount of smoke in the atmosphere. As the Dyeworks was contributing to the pollution problem, Wainhouse decided that it would be a good idea to build a chimney, which would be connected to the Dyeworks by an underground flue. Wainhouse had a good appreciation of architecture, and insisted that the chimney be an object of beauty.
The original architect was Isaac Booth. Work commenced in 1871, using locally quarried stone. Following a dispute with Wainhouse, Isaac Booth left the project and Richard Dugdale was appointed to take his place. Dugdale was responsible for the upper section of the Tower with its balcony and elaborate lantern dome. It was completed on the 9th September 1875 at a cost of £15,000.
John Edward Wainhouse died in July 1883 and the Tower was offered for sale by auction. The Tower had been in the ownership of several people when in 1918, the Halifax Courier organised a public subscription in order for Halifax Corporation to purchase the structure. On May 30 1919, the deed of ownership passed to the Council where it has remained ever since.
Because it has never been used for its original purpose, the Tower is sometimes referred to as Wainhouse’s Folly. However, during the Second World War it was used as an observation post. The entrance has also been utilized as a hen cote!
Wainhouse Tower has recently undergone a programme of repairs and opens to the public on limited days. For further information, see Local history and heritage: Wainhouse Tower.