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Out & About : Day Out

A visit to The People’s Park Halifax

As its name suggests, this is a park specially designed for all the people of Halifax to enjoy at a time when only the largest houses had gardens. Situated about a mile from the town centre on the A58 towards Burnley, this 12.5 acre park, opened in 1857, is a very special one. Designed by Joseph Paxton, originally a gardener at Chatsworth House, The People’s Park is one of several public parks and burial grounds he created. However, he is best known for his design of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition in 1851.

The People’s Park was laid out in an area of open fields but is now surrounded by later 19th century housing. Sir Francis Crossley, a local carpet manufacturer of great fame, donated the park for the enjoyment of the people. It was designed to combine art and nature so that it could provide relaxation and pleasure after a hard days work. It was an area of quiet enjoyment where locals could stroll, meet, chat and enjoy music performed on the bandstand. His own home Belle Vue was just across the road.

 

 

 

It has several impressive entrances with stone gate piers and cast iron gates with curving paths leading from each, through impressive deciduous trees, many of which are now over 150 years old, to the more formal centre of the park. Here the main building is the Grade 11 listed Crossley Pavilion with an arcaded seating area and statue of Sir Francis Crossley made by Joseph Durham 1814-1877. His most famous commission is the Memorial to the Great Exhibition 1851 consisting of a fountain surmounted by a bronze statue of Prince Albert and four figures representing the corners of the world which stands in front of the Royal Albert Hall in London. The water feature within the pavilion walls has bowls shaped like scallop shells above which are heads of sea gods. Water was designed to flow from the heads into the shells and from there into pools.

 

 

On the adjoining terrace are 7 (formerly 8) marble statues of classical figures. Unfortunately Apollo arrived broken after his journey from Carrara, Italy and sadly a few of the others have sustained later minor injuries too.

 

 

 

Dominating the lawns is the bandstand constructed in 1882 of cast iron and timber with a zinc roof. It has hosted many bands and entertainers over the years. Close by is a 2om diameter pond. Originally blessed with a fountain designed by Paxton called ‘a nest of jets’, it now features a central statue which was moved from the winter garden of Somerleyton Hall in Suffolk in 1914 by the descendants of Frank Crossley.

 

 

Nearby is a most impressive sundial which was donated to the park in 1873. Originally created by John Smith 1807-1895 of Bielby near Pocklington East Yorkshire for a school in North Yorkshire in 1858, it is a splendid example of its type. Another piece of his work is the vertical sundial at Castle Howard near York.

 

 

 

The Serpentine Pools, 180m long with an island and crossed by 2 cast iron bridges, are very popular with the local bird life too. 3 marble urns feature at the entrance to one of the bridges and originally the water here was drinking water supplied from a reservoir nearby.

 

 

The Drinking Fountain, donated in 1859, is similar to another in nearby Savile Park but a clean water supply could not be restored to it in 1995 although the stonework has been repaired. 

 

 

Close by, on the North side of the park and screened by trees is the childrens playground whilst on the South side are examples of exotic trees and shrubs. The South West corner originally had glasshouses but now horse chestnut, beech and ash trees have colonised the area although some conifers were planted as part of the 1995 restoration.

 

 

 

Just a mile from Dyer’s Holiday Cottage, take a walk up Wakefield Gate and across Savile Park for a very interesting discovery and exploration of The People’s Park. The map is provided by Calderdale Council.

 

Gentleman Jack

Filming is currently taking place of the latest BBC/HBO historical drama Gentleman Jack at Shibden Hall. Based in 1832 on the true story of Anne Lister who lived at the house, Suranne Jones plays the lead role. Again it is another Sally Wainwright creation. Look out for it in 2019.

Where is Ackley Bridge Filmed?

Ackley Bridge is filmed at the former St Catherine’s RC High School in Halifax, but exterior scenes are filmed across Halifax including Skircoat Moor close to Dyer’s Holiday Cottage. a C4 production based on a fictional school formed from the merger of two schools and the ensuing tensions.  Starring Jo Joyner and Paul Nicholls, series 3 is in production. To keep up to date with this popular drama, please see the Channel 4 website.

Happy Valley

Also written by Sally Wainwright, Happy Valley again stars Sarah Lancashire, this time as a police sergeant, and both the BBC drama and its leading lady won the major BAFTA award 2017 for series 2. Series 3 is planned. It is totally filmed in the local area with most of the film locations in Halifax and other parts of Calderdale such as Sowerby Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge. One scene in series 2 featured views from the top of Wainhouse Tower which included Dyer’s Cottage. We were somewhat surprised to see it.

Series 3 is planned to appear on BBC1 towards the end of 2019/start of 2020. See the BBC website for more information.

Last Tango In Halifax

First screened by BBC1 in 2012, and written by local girl Sally Wainwright, Last Tango In Halifax is filmed in both Yorkshire and Cheshire. Starring Anne Reid, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker, local scenes to Halifax have been filmed at Holdsworth House, Shibden Hall and Skircoat Moor just up the hill behind the cottage. We were fortunate to come across filming for the 2016 Christmas show there.

A new series of Last Tango is due to be filmed in late 2019.

Dean Clough

Dean Clough Halifax is a centre for the arts located in the world’s former largest carpet factory hosting shopping, dining, events and exhibitions – www.deanclough.com.

Canal Boat Trips from Sowerby Bridge

The Calder and Hebble Navigation and the Rochdale Canal are within walking distance of the cottage. The waterways meet at nearby Sowerby Bridge where the wharf area offers a range of pubs and restaurants – www.penninewaterways.co.uk/calder/.

Hire a narrow boat from Shire Cruisers www.shirecruisers.co.uk or Bronte Boats www.bronteboathire.co.uk

Cycling in Calderdale

HappyDaysCycles.org is a social enterprise which repairs and hires out cycles in Sowerby Bridge. Great cafe here too!

Have a look at www.routeyou.com for some of the many cycling routes around Calderdale.

The Tour de Yorkshire May 2-5 2019 has been announced and we are pleased that it will again be starting or finishing at the Piece Hall in Halifax on one of these dates. For more information keep informed by looking at: www.letour.yorkshire.com.

Shibden Hall

Shibden Hall is a magnificent Grade 11* listed historic house situated in 90 acres of beautiful parkland. It’s architecture is a mix of styles which reflect its long and interesting history.

Home to the Lister family for over 300 years, it features in a new BBC drama series set in 1832 following the life of Anne Lister, also known as Gentleman Jack – museums.calderdale.gov.uk/visit/shibden-hall.

Bankfield Museum

A Grade 11 listed historic house museum set within an attractive park, this was originally the home of Edward Akroyd who was one Halifax’s most eminent woollen and worsted manufacturers. Less than a mile from the centre of Halifax in Boothtown, it incorporates costume and textile galleries and the regimental museum of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment who were based in the town.

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