Calderdale's architecture offers a fascinating insight into local heritage, industry, and social history. Among many other impressive buildings, the town of Halifax boasts the unique Square Chapel and Somerset House, while in the west, Todmorden Town Hall is a fine example of Victorian municipal architecture.

Local pubs and inns have always been important to town and village life and to travellers. Sometimes they were used for more unexpected purposes, and one of the district's first libraries was in the Lord Nelson Inn at Luddenden. Another leisure activity, cinema-going, has continued in Hebden Bridge with the survival, sometimes against the odds, of the 1920s' Picture House.

Fine walks and fine buildings

The Calder valley is well known for its vernacular architecture, and in particular for the fine 'Halifax houses' that were built or clad in stone during the 17th-century. Many can still be seen today. They are a frequent sight for walkers on the Calderdale Way, which links many old footpaths in a 52 mile circular trail around the borough, or on other rural tracks.

The houses were typically the homes of wealthy yeoman families specialising in a dual economy of farming and textiles, and were scattered all across the valleys and hills. The local textile trade by the 17th-century had reached an intensity where sufficient fortunes could be made, and one of the choice targets for domestic wealth was in creating a substantial home in stone. This symbolised not just the hard work and good fortune of the family, but also its perseverance and endurance through generations; in a sense, they were an ancestral gift to future generations.

Every local township and village has its own fine example of this distinctive local architecture, drawing on local traditions of family and working life; and most of them sport distinctive sculptural motifs which were as much part of the local character as the architecture itself.

A walk around the old villages of Norland, Barkisland, Midgley and Heptonstall gives a taste of the local style, but a stroll around any of Calderdale's towns and villages, or travelling along any of its many lanes will surely reward you with some of our borough's proudest features.  Calderdale Heritage Walks organises around 50 walks a year throughout Calderdale. It is run by a group of people who have a vast knowledge of all things Calderdale!

The Building of Halifax book cover

The Building of Halifax - a history and celebration

This is produced jointly by Calderdale Council and English Heritage to celebrate the quality of the town by highlighting a selection of its most important buildings, each of which brings the wider story of the town to life.

The 48 page full colour brochure features iconic buildings and areas such as The Piece Hall, Halifax Minster, Shibden Hall, Akroydon Village and Dean Clough Mills. It is available for £3.95 from Halifax Visitor Centre, Hebden Bridge Visitor & Canal Centre and Todmorden Information Centre.

See also