It is fair to say that if you compared an arial photograph of Halifax town centre taken 60 years ago to one taken today you would find some changes but much that had stayed the same. The main difference you would notice would be the colour of the buildings - an extensive stone cleaning exercise was undertaken during the 1970's, removing seven decades accumulation of smoke-laden grime.
Unlike many other towns throughout the country, especially in the 1960's and 1970's, Halifax escaped the mass demolition of stylish Victorian/Edwardian buildings for redevelopment and replacement by characterless concrete blocks (although it has to be said these are not entirely absent). Thus Halifax has retained its unique charm and is a surprise to first time visitors.
Halifax Minster contains a few remnants of the original Norman church which stood on the site but the building which stands today was created over many years, from the late 14th century onwards, being gradually extended and enlarged. It is thought that the nave was built during the late 14th and early 15th centuries, with the chancel being added and enlarged later that century, along with the tower. Finally two chapels were added during the 16th century.
Halifax Borough Market was opened in 1896 by the Duke and Duchess of York (later George V and Queen Mary). The building still dominates the town centre today, with its rooftop turrets and dormers and elaborate stonework on the outside and glass and cast iron interior. The large fruit and veg stall in the centre sits under a four sided clock, itself situated beneath the huge octagonal dome which rises some sixty feet above the market hall floor. The Grade II listed market was voted best market hall in England in 2008 by judges for the National Association of British Market Authorities.
The Post Office was built in 1887 and externally has changed little in the intervening years. To the rear of the building lies the Old Cock inn where the Halifax Permanent Benefit Building Society was formed in 1852.
Halifax Town Hall was completed in 1863 and designed by Charles Barry, designer of the Houses of Parliament. In 2008 it was judged to be one of the 10 most spectacular in Britain by Architecture Today magazine.
Shibden Hall, situated in Shibden park dates back to the 15th century and has been much modified over the centuries, but its original Tudor half-timbered frontage still survives.
Wainhouse Tower was completed in 1875 at a cost of around £15,000 (around £1.5 million today). It was restored in 2008 for around £400,000. Originally built as a chimney but never used for this purpose, it was converted to a tower, with balconies and elaborate lantern dome and is the world's tallest folly. It is open to the public on limited days through the year (see this link for opening times) when, for a small entrance fee, they are able to climb the 403 steps to the top to admire the 360 degree view.
A walk around the town centre will take in a huge range of architectural styles spanning five centuries. Take a look at the gallery page for a taste of that variety.
The Piece Hall was opened in 1779 and its function was as a market place for handloom weavers to sell their pieces of cloth from its 315 rooms. In the 1860's it was taken over by the Halifax Corporation and used as a wholesale market for fruit, vegetables and fish. In 1972 the hall was designated a grade 1 listed building and restoration work commenced, with official reopening in 1976, almost 200 years after its original opening.
In July 2017 a £19 million conservation and transformation project was completed, including granite steps and courtyard surrounded by shops, cafes and bars. Events such as music concerts, street theatre etc. will take place in the courtyard throughout the year.