On each annual visit Halifax reveals it’s treasures a little more. I’ve stayed here quite a few times recently, due more to the regular gigs at the wonderful Minster than new pubs.
This trip for a family wedding meant giving a group of octogenarian teetotallers a tour round a town that they absolutely loved. It was Chinese Buffet rather than Count Dracula Restaurant for tea though.
On my first visit 25 years ago Halifax looked a bit shabby, even compared to Bradford, and without the cheapo curries. These days I park (for free) in a mill conversion with a champagne bar and Jack Wills outlet. Not quite The Calls, but folk in Hebden Bridge must look on in envy.
It’s always had some affluent suburbs like Sowerby Bridge, and remarkably preserved buildings like Piece Hall. I guess in years past it just had too many boarded up buildings to impress.
There was no sign of those yesterday, and a relatively traffic-free centre revealed a string of gems. There aren’t many places with civic buildings as grand as those you get in the wool towns, but it was the unheralded indoor market that stood out. Some of the unspoilt stall frontages would be listed if they were pubs.
While not on the scale of Leeds, the market is a warren of delight, with relentlessly useful things (of no use to me of course). Other family members were drawn to haircuts for a fiver, Pontefract cakes and the Russian tea-room.
I kid you not, this is a world-class visitor attraction, on a par with the Piece Hall (still being refurbished) and an afternoon at The Shay. Within an hour my Mum was looking at house prices (higher than Bradford, cheaper than Cambridge).
Some of the many surviving 1960s shop frontages are gems.
My Dad had a particular fascination with the foliage growing out of the Victorian gems, which in the long-run isn’t a good feature.
Under my own steam I explored a couple of new “recommended” places. The Gundog, across the road from the Beefeater, is a typical cosy multi-roomer with the windows of the year (see top).
It was a cosy place to enjoy bargain White Lion from Bob’s (NBSS 3.5) along with proper pub chatter that as an old person I couldn’t quite interpret. More about ferrets no doubt.
Close by, and a step back from the Edwardian Gundog to the Victorian Craft Beer Café, yet another gorgeous Halifax pub.
I liked this as much for the mixed chatty crowd as the beer range, which was up there with your Sparrows and Pint Shops.
The young manager happily enthused about the town, rightly seeing a couple of new small places as a good thing rather than competition for a fixed pound. Success breeds success.
My Dad asked me the difference between Halifax and Burnley. About £50k a house, I replied. But in truth the pubs are different class.