Annual Reports

Chairman’s Annual Report 2021

John A. Hargreaves

We are particularly pleased to welcome Councillor Dot Foster, the Mayor of Calderdale to chair our Annual General Meeting. I wish to thank her personally for the warm message she sent to me in March 2019, when I was recovering from my stroke in Calderdale Royal Infirmary. I note also that her mayoralty was extended to cover the Covid crisis. Indeed, her photograph appeared recently in the Halifax Courier standing outside Halifax Town Hall on Tuesday 23rd of March, where the Union Flag was flying at half-mast in commemoration of those who had died from Covid-19 in Calderdale, during the minute’s silence across the borough and nation to mark the first anniversary of the first lockdown. Consequently, her mayoral term of office has been like no other in the history of Halifax and Calderdale, and it was so reassuring to have such caring leadership from the Mayor during this extraordinary episode in the history of our civic life.

I commenced writing this report on the anniversary of the Covid 19 crisis, when we were encouraged to commemorate all those who sadly lost their lives in the pandemic in the UK. If there are any redeeming features besides the heroic and continuing efforts of the NHS that we can all look back on with some sense of relief, it would have to be for Susan and me the joy of celebrating and exploring, on our permitted socially distanced daily strolls, the superb natural and historic environment on our doorsteps in Calderdale. We have encountered at a distance, besides many friends whom we would not otherwise have seen, such heart-warming and refreshingly restorative scenes as the Rocks, where Phyllis Bentley once sat reflecting on the plot of her latest novel or a succession of rock climbers like Joe Brown contemplated their ascents of more distant peaks. We have commended the foresight of the local authority in designating Scar Wood and Long Wood as Nature Reserves, and conserving Albert Promenade with its magnificent views of Wainhouse Tower. Consequently, we were delighted to learn from Civic Voice this year that, quite rightly, the criterion of beauty was to be incorporated into the planning criteria at national level.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the date planned for the launch event of the third edition of my Halifax a history from prehistoric times to the present unintentionally coincided with the indefinite closure of the Town Hall, and the Civic officer, having already sent out invitations to the book launch presided over by the Mayor, had to inform guests that because of the Covid emergency the launch had to be postponed indefinitely. It was intended at the launch to acknowledge that the book’s publication would not have happened without the generous financial support of the Calderdale Community Foundation, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council and the Halifax Civic Trust. They all supported the project in the belief that it was closely related to the Halifax Civic Trust key objectives, encapsulated in the Trust’s strapline of ‘celebrating, enhancing and conserving’ Halifax’s unique natural and historic built heritage. This support enabled Carnegie Publishing to produce a fully revised expanded edition making extensive use of colour at a specially discounted, affordable price during lockdown including free delivery direct from the publisher. The book has been well-received by reviewers including Professor Dave Russell formerly of Leeds Beckett’s University and Dr William Marshall of the University of Huddersfield.

During lockdown, our virtual executive committee meetings have been arranged expertly by our treasurer Alan Goodrum, who has hosted our AGM this evening. His expertise was also in evidence during the well-received virtual visit of members of the Yorkshire and Humberside Association of Civic Societies to Halifax. On this memorable occasion I introduced a succession of members and friends enthusiastically presenting sites in the central area of Halifax which make Halifax so interesting a place to visit. Later in the year, David Witcher, our membership secretary, co-ordinated a thorough revision of the Halifax Civic Trust constitution, assisted by Mark Fennelly, who advised on policies designed to meet current grant awarding criteria with input from all the members of the Halifax Civic Trust Executive Committee. This resulted in Susan Hargreaves being appointed as the named person on the Executive Committee identified in the safeguarding role.

The Halifax Civic Trust contributed, through the regional and national channels of YHACS and Civic Voice, to an extensive review of the existing planning criteria raising concerns about how consultation with civic societies would effectively operate. Also, our indefatigable secretary, June Paxton White, conducted a detailed consultation with members of the Executive Committee throughout the year on a succession of planning applications demonstrating the effectiveness of the existing system. Sue Morgan, in consultation with members of the Heritage at Risk sub-committee, also kept a close eye on such concerns as the development of the former St Mary’s Church together with its environs amongst many other endangered sites. Alan Goodrum more positively identified some new developments for evaluation for the Halifax Civic Trust programme of awards and commendations, hopefully leading to their celebration when life returns to normality. For example, in 2020, the decision was taken to award a Halifax Civic Trust Award to the Duke of Wellington’s regimental monumental sculpture in Woolshops as soon as a suitable ceremony can be arranged. Moreover, we hope to have secured enhanced new life for that Halifax Civic Trust project of 1987, our silver jubilee year, notably the Wakefield Gate, with the added interest to local residents and tourist visitors alike as the route taken by Anne Lister to Halifax. Along this medieval routeway she ventured out from Shibden to her favourite haunts of the Halifax Literary and Philosophical Society in Harrison Road; her property in Northgate and the Halifax Parish Church. This project, coordinated by Gwyneth Crawley, has the potential to develop links with other related projects securing even greater community impact.

Sadly, we have lost a number of valued former officers during this last year, including Ivan Mannall, a former treasurer and respected retired paediatrician, who was a regular attender with his wife at our meetings. Also, the Chairman and Secretary represented the Civic Trust virtually at the funeral of Ken Northcott at Park Wood. Ken, a retired architect, and his wife Pam, regularly attended meetings of the Executive Committee and formerly led the planning sub-group at a time when physical inspection of documents was the order of the day, providing detailed reports drawing on his wide experience of planning, which he put at the service of the Halifax Civic Trust before the planning processes were viewable online. Moreover, on 16 April, Susan and I were invited to join with the Mayor of Calderdale and a cross-section of the local community at Halifax Minster to mark the death of HRH the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor. Moreover, I reflected that the Halifax Civic Trust dated its foundation in 1962 coincidentally from a meeting in Windsor in late May 1961, attended by 400 civic leaders throughout the UK, where Queen Elizabeth II had inaugurated a street improvement scheme, and film of the event was projected at the meeting convened in Halifax in the following year to formally constitute Halifax Civic Trust.

However, on a happier note our retired treasurer Gill Hurl has continued in the role of Independent Examiner of Accounts. We also congratulate Clive Lloyd on his recent appointment to the office of High Sheriff of Yorkshire, thereby joining his wife Virginia as a holder of that historic office, and are delighted with their achievement as long serving members of Halifax Civic Trust.

Secretary’s Annual Report 2021

June Paxton-White

2020 got off to a promising start. Then Covic-19 struck and everything went haywire. When we had got over the shock we had to totally rethink our way of operating. We had a number of events in the pipeline involving blue and green plaques. These are still postponed until the situation changes. There were several projects being undertaken by sub-groups who have plodded on regardless and achieved considerable success. We had to cancel the last AGM at short notice as the town hall and the mayor’s diary were closed “for the duration”, a term we had not heard since World War II. Council officers and councillors have been working from home ever since. The Mayor Cllr Dot Foster remained in office for another year and has kindly agreed to chair our AGM in May 2021, by Zoom if necessary. Like everyone else we hoped it would be over in a few weeks, or maybe months at the worst. We did not expect to be in the same situation in 2021.

Fortunately almost all our members are now on line and able to receive communications by e-mail. We managed to complete the 2020 AGM formalities in accordance with the requirements and two amendments to the constitution have been proposed this year which we hope will cover future eventualities. The existing officers and committee have remained in office except for the Treasurer Gill Hurl who wished to stand down so Alan Goodrum was co-opted as Treasurer. All are willing to carry on in 2021. We are grateful for the continuing efforts of David Witcher and Mark Fennelly who took over social media and made several improvements to the website which is now updated more frequently. It was not long before all the committee members learned how to function on line. Monthly meetings are still held on the same days, now hosted by Alan Goodrum on Zoom. We have got used to circulating progress reports by e-mail and finalising decisions at the virtual meetings and we have all acquired some useful efficiencies to carry forward when things return to normal.

The same applied to our relationships with YHACS (Yorkshire and Humberside Association of Civic Societies) and CV (Civic Voice). Some of our members had been to the AGM in Harrogate and a meeting in Beverley before we were locked down. In September Halifax had been scheduled to host a quarterly week-end of meetings and visits. Fortunately we were able to learn from the presentations made for the previous one arranged by Addingham on Zoom and several virtual meetings hosted by Kevin Trickett of YHACS. Interesting presentations, introduced by our Chairman Dr John Hargreaves, were given by our members David Glover, David Hanson, Anne Kirker and Sue Morgan, which were available afterwards on Vimeo. We also enjoyed a presentation by Sarah James from Civic Voice on the Piece Hall which had previously received a special national award and pictures of it had appeared on line and in various publications. Sarah, who is a qualified town planner, also represents us via CV on the government advisory panel on “Building Better, Building Beautiful”. David Glover gave a presentation on our recent achievements at the Yorkshire and North East Round Table organised by Civic Voice.

Several committee members enjoyed Zoom meetings arranged by both these organisations during the year, some in connection with the government consultations “Planning for the Future” to which we contributed via CV and YHACS and “Local Design Codes”. We are grateful to Alan Goodrum for collating our contribution so ably and submitting it to the government with copies to YHACS and CV. Alan Goodrum and David Witcher compiled detailed submissions on the Calderdale Local Plan, mainly concerning waste management and wind turbines.

During the year members have followed up our concerns for the future of St. Mary’s church, Illingworth and Illingworth Gaol and a donation was made for equipment to enable volunteers to work on Akroydon cemetery. We were pleased to hear that Square Chapel, which had gone into administration at the beginning of lockdown, had been acquired by a firm called Arts at the Mill based at Wigan Pier and hope that it will not be long before it is back in business. We are still concerned about the fate of the stylized tiled murals by Kenneth Barden at the Halifax Pool which is now permanently closed. It was hoped that it would be possible to transfer them to the proposed new pool at the North Bridge leisure centre. A conservation officer has looked into it and found that they may have suffered too much damage although she is keen to retain them somehow. In an attempt to save them the Twentieth Century Society had tried to have the whole building listed but Historic England decided against it.

The major project during the year has been the restoration of Wakefield Gate (also known as the Magna Via). Repair and clearance work has already been carried out on parts by the council but the hollow way known as Dark Lane which is a scheduled ancient monument remains to be done. We hope to refurbish and renew information plaques provided by Halifax Civic Trust in 1991 and arrange for further signage to help walkers. Great progress has been made by a sub-group led by Gwyneth Crawley.

Our Heritage at Risk sub-group has been active throughout the year. One of their concerns was the condition of the Grade II listed coal drops on the remains of the old railway viaduct near the Minster. We are pleased to report that the A629 project team are interested in finding a future for them and work has recently been done by the Council on removing unwanted trees and undergrowth. Some of our members are involved in the proposal to have Skircoat Green library, which has been closed by the Council, operated by a group of volunteers as a library and community hub. We also responded to reports of large numbers of rats clearly visible in People’s Park and are hoping the Council will find some way to alleviate the problem as it is too dangerous to put down poison in the children’s playground where they are scampering about. On the plus side the Canal and River Trust has now completed the restoration of the canal bridge at Copley, the condition of which we reported to their archaeologist when she spoke at our AGM in 2018.

It has been a difficult year for everybody, but all things considered Halifax Civic Trust has continued to function more effectively than we thought possible. We have looked at all the planning applications objecting to some and supporting others, we have kept a watchful eye on our historic heritage and taken action when necessary, we have been actively involved in some complex consultations at national and local level, we have collaborated successfully with other organisations and with council officers, most of whom were working as best they could from home. We are now hoping that it will not be too long before the various events that have been postponed can be held and we can all meet again safely.

Treasurer's Report 2020-21_final.docx
Heritage at Risk Report.pdf
Wakefield Gate GC final draft 2021.pdf


The arrival of the pandemic caused the closure of the town hall and council buildings and the planners had to work from home. After some initial problems, the council website continued to function smoothly. Not surprisingly, there appears to have been an increase in extensions and alterations to houses as people fill in their time with DIY or more ambitious projects. The planners continue to turn down extensions that are overbearing or disproportionate, which are particularly conspicuous in terraced or semi-detached houses, although some much larger extensions to detached houses have also been refused. Reasons given may be “out of character”, “contrary to design criteria”, the latter being an addition perhaps influenced by the wording of the impending national and local design codes.

More vacant premises have been converted to accommodation for youngsters in care, “to prevent children who suffered trauma from becoming institutionalised” and to prepare them for a world of work and independent living. These include the former county court building, premises in town vacated by solicitors, some pubs and former HMOs (houses in multiple occupation). Some of these may be listed or in conservation areas but do not require external alteration and in many cases the internal alterations return them to their original function as a dwelling. Modern blocks have been built on an existing car park, designed to harmonise with older premises. A scheme has been put forward to convert the former Magistrates' Court into a music school and concert venue.

Not all obsolete pubs are converted to residential, the former Horse and Jockey, the last reference to the old racecourse, has become a church. We continue to monitor plans for former churches and chapels. An amended plan for St. Mary’s Church, Illingworth to be converted to residential with a nursery, gym and hairdresser on the ground floor as been passed subject to conditions regarding the retention of some old features, but has not yet been implemented and plans have been passed for housing on the site of the nearby Talbot Inn. An application to turn the former Ukrainian Church on Queen’s Road into a site for car sales and storage has been refused on grounds of “harmful to local heritage and character”. Smaller chapels are still being converted to dwellings. Unfortunately, some care homes for the elderly have suffered so much due to loss of life and income that they have been forced to close down and will be converted back to dwellings.

There is still a shortage of genuinely affordable housing in the area but we welcomed the plans for 107 dwellings by Together Housing behind Richmond Road. They replace a much larger number of units in the demolished tower blocks and other housing but we hope they will improve the view in that area. We expressed concerns about the proposal to convert the former Carlton Works and Pickles Print Works on The Boulevard into 33 flats. Parts dated from the 1850s and some mullioned windows were older. Eventually a plan was accepted that retained some significant features and made some improvements, but the rare roof louvres will be lost. On the modern side, we were pleased to see that Halifax plc proposes to reduce its carbon footprint by replacing outdated gas-fired boilers by open loop ground source heat pumps, using the aquifer underneath that was drilled by the former brewery on the site.

In the public realm, we supported the upgrading of the bus station on Northgate. The new design will retain all the listed facades of former buildings in the vicinity and will even reveal some arched windows that had been obscured. We considered the new layout to be a distinct improvement. On the other hand, we were among many who objected to the proposal to turn the former Dews Garage nearby into an ugly flat-roofed drive-through coffee shop/café, and it was refused on the grounds that it failed to preserve the setting of the nearby listed buildings and character and appearance of adjacent town centre conservation area. Another item that attracted objections was the felling of a rare specimen tree outside Horton House. It was permitted due to being too close to the house, but subject to the planting of a sapling on the nearby grassed area with some spares at People’s Park.

Local Plan

The lengthy Calderdale local Plan examination entered Stage Two in October 2020, inevitably delayed because of the pandemic, with all the hearings carried out on Zoom. This stage looked at detailed site allocations and policies and there were several key areas of interest following representations the Civic Trust made in earlier years.

Retailing and Town Centre

We had some success with this as our representations had attracted the interest of the Inspector, Katie Child and asked the Inspector to come up with a modification to incorporated a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) on the Town Centre, driving forward the work that was done some years ago which resulted in schemes such as the Northgate House refurbishment, Piece Hall revamp and central area road improvements which now have detailed consent. It will be interesting to see how this develops though progress partly depends on the planning reforms currently out to consultation by Central Government.

Built and Historic Environment

Calderdale had significantly revised this section as a result of a number of representations. The Inspector allowed us to make the point that our concerns were less about the wording than the resourcing, implementation and management.

On the detail of roller shutter doors the Council did agree to have a further dialogue on this in terms of a minor change in the wording to so the council is not actively encouraging their use. This is particularly important for areas like King Cross and will also be relevant in the Town Centre SPD.

The local list and management plans proved harder work. The Council referred to the improved wording of the chapter, supported a local list in principle and recognised the bid for resources through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, but said management and resources was not a matter for the plan i.e. there was no commitment to do management plans for the conservation areas. The senior Calderdale Officer, Richard Seaman, himself referred to having only two conservation officers. Since then we understand the bid for resources by the Combined Authority to support work on local listing has been successful though at the time of writing had not progressed.

Environment Policies

The proposed reduction in the Special Landscape Area is particularly sensitive in the Swales Moor Road Area and the issues were put clearly by Shibden Valley Association’s Planning Consultant, particularly the changes to the boundary on Swales Moor Road. Calderdale’s response was not very clear referring to the work consultants had done and saying previously the boundary had just been taken forward without evidence to back it up. There are apparently no restoration conditions on the quarries. Calderdale’s argument was the impact of any development on the reduced SLA would have to be considered at the application stage. The Inspector has agreed to look at the site.

Minerals and Waste

The Civic Trust did not make a great deal of headway on minerals. We made the case for better restoration of minerals sites and submission of restoration details at the application stage, but were clearly adopting a position contrary to national planning guidance. In respect of waste, our focus was a significant gain on the Swales Moor area. We successfully argued for a smaller developable area for built waste facilities, essentially the existing curtilage, thus avoiding damage to the sensitive Green Belt agricultural land on the ridge top. However, the Inspector questioned whether waste sites should remain in the Green Belt, and the Council has subsequently proposed removing the existing Swales Moor Road site from the Green


The Inspector was unable to conclude the examination at the end of Stage Two and there were a number of matters requiring further attention, set out in a post hearings letter, which were the subject of consultation by Calderdale. Of greatest interest were:

• A proposed policy on Wind Turbines (less than 18 metres in height) where we were concerned at the impact on the Shibden Valley and made an appropriate submission.

• The Swales Moor area, where we have made further representations that the area existing waste site should retain its Green Belt status.

The examination will resume, albeit remotely, to consider the remaining issues on June 15th. Following the Inspectors final report, Calderdale must formally adopt the plan with the appropriate modifications. All the documents are available in the examination library: Local Plan Examination Library | Calderdale Council

Alan Goodrum and David Witcher

Planning Consultations

Planning for the Future White Paper

This was a major package of proposals and provided a new role for Local Plans (with growth, renewal and protected areas), streamlined development management depending on the zone, top down housing figures (which caused something of a furore in the south east causing a rethink), more use of digital technology and a fast track for beauty through the use of design codes. It is difficult to do full justice to the scope of this document here but more detail can be found in:

We welcomed the publication of ‘Planning for the Future’ its commitment to cherish the past, adorn the present and build for the future, with more homes, greater use of technology and greater local democracy and accountability. We consider the White Paper raises many important points about the current system and though worthy in its objectives these are not always carried through into the details of the proposals. We welcomed the debate it has created but questioned how the proposed changes would benefit our town and our community. We were interested to see the photograph of the Piece Hall included in the document.

Our main themes were:

• The new approach to housing will produce fewer houses in our local area and given housing led regeneration is crucial to the success of the economy and wellbeing this is most disappointing, indeed the mechanisms before producing much needed affordable and particularly social housing are at best unclear.

• Although we accept the local plan system needs reforming particularly given our experience at the current local plan examination we were not convinced the proposed reforms will produce better outcomes for our residents or result in a higher standard of development. In the move away from a discretionary based system there is a real risk the community will have less opportunity to participate with decisions based on a legal interpretation of the rules

• The emphasis on good design was welcome but this must be rooted in the character of the local area, with local engagement, not nationally prescribed. Civic Societies have an important role in this. There is insufficient emphasis on conservation.

• Although we welcomed the digital emphasis there is little said about how those who are presently excluded from the participation process will be engaged. The document is terribly thin on equalities impacts passing responsibility to assess its impact onto others.

• There is a missed opportunity to address the needs of our town centres, badly suffering through the pandemic

• The opportunity to input the green and carbon neutral agenda at centre stage has been missed.

Although fine words are said on enforcement very little is said on how this will be enacted and resourced.

The outcome of this consultation is awaited together with the Government’s latest thinking.

Changes to the National Planning Policy Framework

This consultation was intended to be the first stage of the implementation of the planning reforms discussed above. We had concerns about this, particularly in its proposal to make Article 4 Directions which restrict permitted development rights harder for local authorities to implement. The Government has extended permitted development rights considerably over the last year. In addition we highlighted the missed opportunities to address affordable housing and social housing need, the importance of areas of special landscape vale and tighten up on minerals restoration.

The National Model Design Code (NMDC)

The NMDC forms a toolkit for how to produce a local design code or guide.

•Expected to be used by local authorities to develop their own local design codes and guides. The Government’s ambition is for every area to have a design code in place.

•Local design codes will be expected to reflect local character and make clear the design standards for new developments.

•Emphasis on genuinely involving the local community in developing codes so that local residents have a say in the design of new developments.

We welcomed the Government’s desire to create places that will give delight, beauty and be for people, with well-designed places made to last. What the Government envisaged as a Design Code and the Codification Process was outlined at some length in the consultation. We certainly saw Halifax Civic Trust as being strongly aligned with these objectives. To be effective the measures proposed must deliver on these objectives and be taken in the round with other measures to change the planning system. Our concern was that the Government may not be able to deliver on those objectives, certainly without strong support from the community, voluntary associations like ourselves and Local Councils. Our comments were based on whether the Code will deliver the improved quality of buildings and the public realm locally, the delivery mechanisms and whether the right approach is proposed for community engagement.

Our most significant concern was the capacity and capability of the local planning department. There are very few specialist urban designers and landscape architects working in local government. Conservation teams have typically been cut by half over the last 10 years. Only the most flagrant breaches of planning control can be pursued because of lack of staff or resources. There are skills available in the private sector but this is not a huge industry and there is already a steady workload of master planning. The Government needs to consider the skills and training of the sector, particularly visual and urban design, to deliver what is proposed.

The approach does seem to represent something of a leap of faith. It is not a tried and tested solution. We welcome the idea that it should be piloted in a number of local authority areas.

There are some aspects which could lead to an over legalistic approach. For example the application of plot ratios in city centre sites. These are by definition valuable sites and each increment of floorspace impacts on site values significantly. This encourages developers to challenge the codes and this coupled with the other mooted changes in the planning system could result in an over legalistic approach. The antithesis of what the Government is trying to do is design by lawyers

We welcomed the proposal for public engagement in the codification process. However we are concerned that this does not run through the documents as presented. The end result may be less public involvement in proposals, with consultation being driven by the developer.

Through the consideration of these proposals we have greatly benefitted not only from the discussions at the Halifax Civic Trust Committee but also Civic Voice and YHACS regionally.

The Queens speech in May 2021 included a bill to take these measures forward.

Yorkshire and Humber Association of Civic Societies – Halifax Members Event

Halifax Civic Trust was pleased to host the autumn members meeting of YHACS on Saturday 26th September 2020.

Normally this would take the form of one or two walking tours in the morning and a meeting in the afternoon with a visiting speaker together with a business meeting. This however was the year of the pandemic, Halifax was effectively closed to all except food shopping and social distancing had to be maintained at all times. Following a successful pilot meeting in Addingham over the summer, Halifax was pleased to host a virtual meeting. This took the form of the preparation of several videos which were made widely available. To say this stretched the technical abilities of your committee would be an understatement, but the task was successfully accomplished.

The videos were:

Introduction by John Hargreaves, Chairman.

Anne Kirker, Three Significant Buildings round the Minster

David Hanson: Virtual Tour of the Town Centre

David Glover: A Stroll from Halifax Minster to Shibden Hall

Sue Morgan: Buildings at Risk

Stuart Crowther: Industrial Museum (with musical accompaniment from the Landlubbers) Sarah James (Civic Voice) Why the Piece Hall won a national Award.

The event which included a talk by Ian Harvey from Civic Voice on the Planning Reform White Paper attracted 50 participants while hits on the website of the videos were 132 before the event and a total of 403 views. Feedback from participants was excellent.

The videos have been retained on the Halifax Civic Trust website and may be viewed there.

Our own tweets on the Showcase had 1403 impressions and a further 13 views to the end of the year

Many thanks to all those involved, both in front of the camera and behind!

Since then we have enjoyed a meeting hosted by Beverley Civic Society. The next meeting will be hosted by Leeds Civic Trust, again virtually, on 17th July 2021.

Alan Goodrum

Annual Reports 2020

Chairman’s Annual Report 2020

Since our last year’s Annual General Meeting we have continued to monitor buildings at risk by receiving regular reports from a sub-committee renamed Heritage at Risk, chaired by Sue Morgan. The sub-committee has provided an updated list, with illustrations, and additions are always welcomed. Other heritage agencies in the vicinity of St Mary’s Church and Illingworth Gaol, notably the Methodist Church Heritage Group based at Mount Zion, have been keen to develop a more holistic view of the outstanding if neglected features of the heritage of North Halifax, for example the grave of the hymn writer, Accepted Widdop. Moreover, at the other end of the timeline, under Alan Goodrum’s leadership a sub-group was reconvened to scrutinise the revised consultation document for the Calderdale Local Plan, assessing future planned developments by local government, attention was focused on the incorporation of revised housing provision into the plan.

We also appealed for suggestions for suitable locations for Halifax Civic Trust Blue Plaques commemorating the association of remarkable individuals born within the former Halifax County Borough and are grateful to David Hanson for continuing to coordinate this high-profile responsibility of the Civic Trust. We are pleased to report that the blue plaque presented on stage by the Chairman of the Halifax Civic Trust commemorating William Priestley, the founder of the Halifax Choral Society, to the conductor, John Pryce-Jones, before the society’s bicentenary year performance of Messiah, has now been very prominently displayed outside the main entrance to the Victoria Theatre. A Blue Plaque commemorating the association of the popular broadcaster Wilfred Pickles, born in Halifax and educated at Parkinson Lane School, was presented to his great niece, the actress Carolyn Pickles, at Square Chapel, following a showing of Billy Liar, and a Q & A session with her. It is to be installed at the school. A further plaque honouring Miriam Lightowler, the first woman Mayor of Halifax, is being planned. David Hanson is also considering a number of other suggestions and would be pleased to receive more.

The plaque commemorating Anne Lister has continued to attract considerable attention for its balanced assessment of the many facets of her life. It has made a distinctive contribution to the growing interest in her extraordinary life through her diaries which look set to be transcribed in their entirety by a collaborative project initiated by West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale, as a result of the impact of television drama Gentleman Jack. Indeed, Sally Wainwright’s dramatic storyline, televised initially in the USA, has put Halifax on the transatlantic tourist itinerary. Also, nearer home, the Calderdale Libraries added to their map collection a useful and detailed reference map of the Halifax County Borough boundary following enquiries by David Witcher on behalf of the Halifax Civic Trust. The Trust has also expressed renewed concern at the condition of the Wakefield Gate, the surviving hollow way section of the medieval route from Wakefield to Halifax, arising from the increased footfall to Shibden Hall and its environs. As a result, Calderdale Council officers undertook to investigate the problem and prompt action was taken.

Planning applications have been ably summarised and highlighted at our meetings by our indefatigable secretary June Paxton-White and appropriate action taken where intervention was deemed necessary. In general, approval was expressed for the conversion of substantial historic buildings in the town centre into living accommodation including sheltered accommodation for younger people. Concern was also expressed also about the lack of provision in the proposed new North Bridge Leisure Centre for some of the features of the existing pool such as the high diving facility and regret was expressed at the potential loss of the bold ‘stylized tiled murals of British pond life by K. Barden with slate blue and pale green relieving the black, white and brown’, listed in Harman’s recent updated revision of Pevsner’s classic guide.

Members and friends attended a very enjoyable Christmas lunch organised by Gwyneth Crawley at Pollino's restaurant at which various types of garden seeds, carefully harvested and packaged by Gwyneth, were distributed to participants who were invited to scatter the seeds in their own localities in order to bring a splash of colour to, for example, otherwise neglected roadside verges. Before the meal several of us crossed the Burnley Road to view the current sadly neglected state of Wainhouse Terrace concern for which had often featured in our executive meetings. After the meal an extract from a Radio 4 Making History interview recorded with the Chairman in Queen’s Road was played, and David Glover presented an interesting collection of old photographs showing the changing built environment of King Cross.

We welcomed onto the Halifax Civic Trust Executive Committee John Hagan, who had recently moved from Burnley to live in Halifax and Mark Fennelly, whose technical expertise proved invaluable in the development of our own website and social media presence, and our discussions on virtual meetings. He also elicited Halifax Civic Trust support for a replacement strimmer for the use of the Claremount and Boothtown Community Association in their commendable maintenance of the historic All Souls’ Burial Ground. Gwyneth Crawley in her article on Ben Wilson for the Skircoat Green Directory also raised awareness of the Victorian burials in the All Saints Church Burial Ground many of which including Wilson’s remain overgrown and inaccessible.

Several members have continued to network regionally with the Yorkshire and Humberside Association of Civic Societies (YHACS) at meetings at Harrogate, Pontefract, Selby and Sheffield and nationally with Civic Voice. Halifax Civic Trust also contributed articles to the YHACS bulletin, including two on the theme for the year of Heritage and Culture and we offer our congratulations to Alan Goodrum, a member of the Halifax Civic Trust executive committee, on his election as YHACS treasurer. Moreover, we welcomed the choice of a photograph of the Halifax Piece Hall for the cover of a recent issue of Civic Voice Manifesto following a national award in 2019. We also welcomed the opportunity of hosting a future meeting of YHACS in Halifax.

David Glover attended on our behalf the rededication of the Boer War memorial in West View Park following the concern that Halifax Civic Trust had expressed over the years to the damage inflicted by vandals on this rare memorial which served as a memorial also for the lives lost in the First World War until the unveiling of the Cenotaph in Belle Vue Park. More recently the Halifax Civic Trust welcomed the unveiling of the monument to the close association of Halifax with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in Woolshops and the reprieve of the historic 1914 bandstand in Centre Vale Park in Todmorden.

The publication of the third edition of the Chairman’s long-awaited history of Halifax from prehistoric times to the present was scheduled to be distributed to bookshops and pre-publication offer orders to coincide with this year’s recently cancelled AGM. The author wishes to thank the Community Foundation of Calderdale; Calderdale MBC and Halifax Civic Trust for enabling this fully revised, expanded, illustrated edition to be published. In seeking to assist readers to celebrate, conserve and enhance the exceptional historic and natural environment of Halifax and Calderdale, it aims to disseminate the core objectives of Halifax Civic Trust. Finally, I wish to thank members of the Civic Trust who have supported both Susan and myself throughout the serious health issues we have both suffered from this last year by sending messages, offering lifts, visiting us, chairing and servicing meetings.

John A. Hargreaves

REVIEW OF THE YEAR June Paxton-White

In 2019 we were pleased to welcome two new committee members John Hagan and, to develop our Twitter account which he ably did, Mark Fennelly, bringing in more than 300 followers to date. Sue Morgan agreed to chair the Buildings at Risk sub-group which was renamed Heritage at Risk to widen its remit, and has worked hard throughout the year to produce a current database with photographs. They keep a close eye on sites which are vacant or deteriorating, visiting and researching as necessary and maintain productive relations with the planning and conservation officers.

Several members attended meetings of YHACS (Yorkshire and Humberside Association of Civil Societies) at Harrogate, Pontefract, Selby and Sheffield, including a workshop on “Building for Life” and the 20th anniversary event with luncheon in York. These meetings are normally held on a Saturday afternoon preceded by workshops or historical walks in the morning and the possibility of a dinner on the Friday evening for people who are able to spend the night in the hotel. This gives us an opportunity to network with other societies in the north of England and to promote Halifax, resulting in visits by Harrogate CS and Pontefract CS in June and Horbury CS in July, organised by David Hanson and ably hosted by members. We contributed articles to the YHACS bulletin “Society Insight” one on our blue plaque events, another on the “Gentleman Jack effect” as the theme for the year was Heritage and Culture. This year our member Alan Goodrum also took the office of Treasurer for YHACS and sent in a report on HCT’s contribution to planning reform as he had coordinated our response to the council’s local plan which is still in the pipeline.

At a slightly more distant level, we contributed to surveys and supplied reports to Civic Voice, the national umbrella organisation for civic societies which lobbies government on issues of interest via the All-Party Parliamentary Committee and were pleased to see that the new Civic Voice Manifesto had a photo of the Piece Hall on the front cover following the national award last year. They had also taken up the suggestion we had made in writing and at meetings, that societies would gain more from their local councils if they pursued a constructive and collaborative relationship with councillors and officers They must have agreed as they produced the slogans “From Confrontation to Collaboration” and “Collaboration not Confrontation”.

In June our Vice-Chairman David Glover spoke to Radio Leeds on HCT plaques to eminent Victorians to coincide with Queen Victoria’s birthday and in November he attended the rededication of the Boer War memorial at West View Park, Warley Road. HCT has maintained an interest in the restoration of this rare memorial following damage and theft of plaques by vandals. It now has safety railings round it and we hope it will remain intact for many years to come. His information board at the gibbet has also been unveiled.

In May several members were pleased to attend an event at Edgecumbe House to see how the infirmary treasures had been restored and were impressed by the work done to date. A well-attended Christmas lunch was held at Pollino's restaurant, Warley Road, preceded by a visit to the Wainhouse Terrace, and followed by a talk by David Glover on the history of the area illustrated by old photographs. Also available were various types of poppy seeds for members to scatter in appropriate places, provided by Gwyneth Crawley.

Following the success of our intervention regarding the repairs to the Walker pit tower last year we drew the attention of the appropriate council officers to the deterioration of Wakefield Gate (also known as the Magna Via) following increased use by tourists at Shibden Hall. The undergrowth has been cut away and it has been cleaned up making it is easier to negotiate. Repairs to drainage and erosion will require the agreement of Historic England.