Saturday, 11 April 2009

Halifax is Lovely

After exploring what Lancashire could offer recently, I thought it would be interesting to head over the Pennines to God's Own County of Yorkshire - West Yorkshire to be exact. At Junction 24 I had a choice, head for Halifax or 'uddersfield. Not wishing to offend our Yorkshire cousins, I thought Halifax would be a safer bet and what a very pleasant surprise it was.

Halifax is snuggled in a valley and on the sweeping drive down the A629 you can see evidence of its industrial past with mills - now converted into apartments.

On parking in the heart of Halifax, you may think you are parking in a non descript town, with the usual high street shops, however you will be pleasantly deceived. There is no Debenhams, nor Starbucks: my usual indicators of high street saturation. There is a high number of individual, non-chain boutiques and coffee shops providing refreshments of a decidedly Halifax flavour.

The railway station is a sight to see as it looks as if it is straight out of a Jane Austin novel with it's classical design in York stone. It kind of melts your knees and you imagine Darcy could be waiting just for you.

The architecture of Halifax points towards a very monied Victorian past: the York stone buildings with its wonderful, rich and ornate carvings. There is an individual department store where you could take your Gran for tea and cakes, purchase very nice outfits and Chanel nail polish (a weakness for me).

The market hall with it's wonderful wrought iron and glass ceiling, underneath still sells obscure pork products - pork and black pudding pie to be exact. The fact a market exists below such a ceiling is a fabulous achievement in this day and age. You would expect it to be covering designer shops and high street chains, but no it does not, just local produce for local people. Fantastic!

There is a fab factor going on with it's charity shops too. First of all there are plenty of them and they are open at regular times. Secondly they sell fab things like Portmerion pottery, as I managed to purchase two rather lovely bowls for £6 when they should have been £16. There is a high quality factor operating in Halifax, which reflects the fact it is a rather wealthy place. Thirdly, Halifax has a number of obscure charity shops including Helping Hands & Greyhound and Lurcher Trust. And fourthly they are campaigning to save the demolition of their local library and make people to sign a petition to save it, which is for me is an ace thing. I want to go back there and very possibly live there.

What else has Halifax to offer? A museum, Northern Broadsides Theatre Company and a completely civilised shopping experience.

One of my ex-bosses resides in these parts and I wondered why he travelled an hour to two hours each day from and to Halifax. I understand now - it's a lovely place and very possibly a great place to bring up children. Okay as a teenager I may not have appreciated it that much, but it is a civilised distance between Leeds and Manchester, which would have been good enough for me.

On the nutter front, there are low levels of nutter activity, although near the YMCA there seemed to be some nutter activity.

Halifax is pretty sane and has a civilised Yorkshire personality - a kind of Michael Parkinson type of town.