Visit Halifax Town Hall: Designed by Downton Abbey Architect

Downton Abbey Architect, Sir Charles Barry, designed Halifax Town Hall the beautiful neo-renaissance masterpiece in Halifax, Yorkshire.

Halifax Town Hall – When was it built?

1861 -1863, so if local lady Anne Lister – Gentleman Jack of Shibden Hall in Halifax had wanted to visit Halifax Town Hall she would not have been able to because the building wasn’t proposed until 1847, 7 years after her death in 1840. It took 3 proposals before it was finally granted that Halifax warranted a town hall. The foundation stone of Halifax Town Hall was finally laid in 1861.

Halifax Town Hall Architect

Sir Charles Barry was the architect of Halifax Town Hall, but he did not live to see his last masterpiece finally built because he died in 1860. However, Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860) had included his son Edward Middleton Barry (1830-1880) in his team who then took over the job of completing Halifax Town Hall. Sir Charles Barry designed the Palace of Westminster best known to us today as the House of Commons. He also designed Highclere Castle of Downton Abbey fame. Halifax Town Hall is definitely worth seeing for its history and for its magnificent exterior and interior.

Halifax Town Hall – Who built it?

Whiteley Brothers were the builders of Halifax Town Hall, using 24 tonnes of local sandstone which came from Ringby Quarry of Swalesmoor, 1.75 miles from the site.

Halifax Town Hall – How much did it cost?

The cost of Halifax Town Hall was originally estimated at £20,000, the equivalent of the cost then of  100,000 days of skilled tradesman hours. However, the building cost of Halifax Town Hall went well over its original budget – the final price was £50,126.

Halifax Town Hall – When was it opened?

On the 4th of August 1863, 70,000 people turned out on a rainy day using 358 trains to see the 22-year-old grandson of Queen Victoria HRH Prince Albert Edward Prince of Wales opening the Halifax Town Hall building.

It was the first visit to Halifax by a member of the Royal Family. He arrived on the 3rd of August by Royal Train. The Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) was treated to a two cannon gun salute from Beacon Hill and a guard of 300 soldiers.

Unfortunately, the prince’s new young Danish wife, 18-year-old Princess Alexandra could not join him that day as she was pregnant and unwell because of her condition. Nevertheless, the crowds turned out in the rain to see him.

Halifax Town Hall Council Chamber

The Council Chamber of Halifax Town hall is a stunningly beautiful room in which to carry out Council business. Halifax Town hall chamber is surrounded by wood panelling and there is an amazing stained glass ceiling with the pre-1948 Halifax Coat of Arms in the centre. 

Halifax Town Hall Council Chamber
Halifax Town Hall Council Chamber

At equal distances around the edges are the four parts of the Royal Standard.  There are more stained glass panels all around the chamber above the coving each of them has a stylised tree with shields and mottoes across the branches with the themes of justice and the multitude of industries undertaken in Halifax.

Halifax Town Hall Victoria Hall

Halifax Victoria Hall is 51 ft by 43 ft by 43 ft high and is daylit by a twelve-sectioned blue and green glass ceiling, surrounded by yellow painted glass coving and mosaic flooring incorporating the White Rose of Yorkshire.

Halifax Town Hall Council Chamber
Halifax Town Hall Council Chamber

Halifax Town Hall Sculptures

There are sculptures of Prince of Wales and  Princess Alexandra along with Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and John Crossley who was mayor of Halifax at the time the building was opened. The statues all stand in the Lower Victoria Hall at Halifax Town Hall. 

On the corners of Halifax Town Hall Clock Tower spire are four seven-foot angels

Halifax Town Hall Mayor’s Parlour / Mayor’s Office

Accessed from the Victoria Hall Gallery the Mayor’s Parlour was originally designed as a reception room, so it has an ornate pink-painted 3D coffered ceiling, two oak mayoral chairs, Crossley carpets and some of Calderdale’s silverware.

Halifax Town Hall Clock Tower and Spire

The Clock Tower of Halifax Town Hall used to be called simply the Clock Tower.  However, to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee it was renamed in 2013 and has been known as the Elizabeth Tower ever since.

The steeple of Halifax Town Hall is 180 feet high with a carved tile effect on the spire. From street level you can see there’s a statue at each corner. They represent Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. The African sculpture faces away from Crossley Street and represents an ancient Egyptian and two boys. The North America sculpture, above the tower portico, is of a Native American with two small figures holding a paddle and a roll of tobacco. Europe, at the front of the tower in Crossley Street, embodies emblems of civilisation and refinement. Asia faces down Crossley Street, on the opposite side of the tower from the portico and is of a figure with a Chinese boy and a tea chest and a child with flowers.

After sculpting the representations of Africa, Europe and North America, John Thomas died, and Asia was carved under the supervision of Daniel Maclise.

On the corners of Halifax Town Hall Spire are the four seven-foot angels

Dated 1862, each clock face has carved around them, in line with the religious fundamentalism and work ethics prevalent at the time, such mottos as “Fear God Always” and “Delay Not to Do Well.”

Halifax Town Hall Entrance

Halifax Town Hall Entrance has a porch with an arch and a balustrade with ball finials. The other entrances on the west side have old iron lamp standards and new lanterns, and one has an iron balustrade.

Why visit Halifax Town Hall?

As you’ve seen and read, Halifax Town Hall is a beautiful and impressive building designed by Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament and Highclere Castle the setting of Downton Abbey as seen in the TV and films – Halifax Town Hall never fails to impress visitors from far and wide.

Plus Halifax is packed with interesting architecture and cultural life including the Piece Hall and the beautiful country scenery of Calderdale including the Shibden Mill Inn, Shibden Hall and Shibden Park. If you like location hunting, Halifax and Calderdale is the setting for many successful TV programmes including Gentleman Jack, Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax. The original version of the film Room at the Top featured many scenes shot in Halifax, with Halifax Town Hall being called Warnley Town Hall.

How Can I see the Inside of Halifax Town Hall?

Organised Halifax Town Hall Tours cost £5, are bookable through Eventbright and are led by Calderdale Council staff, who have worked in the building for many years. Free guided tours of Halifax Town Hall can be arranged by contacting the Mayor’s office

Halifax Town Hall and other Halifax Buildings

The Halifax Town Hall building should be understood in the context of the whole group of buildings in Crossley Street, which are all listed. At the time of its conception, John Crossley the very successful carpet manufacturer of Dean Clough Mills was developing Princess Street and Crossley Street and Halifax Town Hall was built on land belonging to him.   

Other Listed buildings in Halifax

Halifax has 254 listed buildings including in the town centre, the magnificent Piece Hall, Princess Buildings, Crossley Street Buildings, Halifax Borough Market, Halifax Minster, Victoria Theatre, Somerset House, Hope Hall and Dean Clough.

Halifax Town Hall Parking

There is on-street parking in the close vicinity including Crossley Street and Princess Street. There is a large multi-storey car park at Broad Street Plaza ( Northgate, Halifax HX1 1YA) which is a two-minute walk away.

Halifax Town Hall Postcode

Halifax Town Hall SatNav: Crossley Street, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 1UJ

Restaurant near Halifax Town Hall

The nearest restaurant is Ricci’s Place at 4 Crossley St, Halifax HX1 1UG – Robert De Niro has dined there! It’s a 1-minute walk away as is open for breakfast, brunch and dinner.

Ricci's Place Restaurant Halifax
Ricci’s Place Restaurant Halifax

Nearest Hotel to Halifax Town Hall

The Premier Inn Halifax Town Centre (Broad St, Orange St, Halifax HX1 1YA) and The White Swan Hotel (Princess Street Princess St, Halifax HX1 1TS) are both within a 2-minute walk.