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Halifax is a place dramatic in its setting in the Pennine hills and also in its contrasts between raw industrialism and rural delights; between thrusting modernity and the grace of a bygone age.
Nowhere is its impact more dramatic than at the 850 ft. Beacon Hill, east of the town, where you can look down into a veritable basin of industry - chimneys, gasworks, smoke - which makes it easy to understand why this view has given rise to the name: The Devil's Cauldron.

Yet only a few miles away there is Shibden Dale, a green and peaceful valley where the only sound is often that of birdsong or the Shibden Brook. Here you could be in the very heart of the country with the nearest mill chimney a hundred miles away.

Halifax is an ancient place; it existed in Saxon times and throughout its long history it has been a producer of woollen cloth.

At least as early as 1275 there was a weaver at Halifax. It was in fact the cloth trade which gave rise to one of the things for which Halifax is most widely known - the Gibbet Law and the associated saying: From Hell, Hull and Halifax, good Lord deliver us. Precisely why deliverance was to be sought from Hull is not perhaps clear, but there is no doubt that so far as Halifax was concerned, the object of dread, was the gibbet, an instrument of decapitation which anticipated the French guillotine.

Its story goes back to the mid-fourteenth century when Halifax cloth makers were plagued by thieves who stole the cloth when it was put out on frames in the fields to dry. Such a menace did these pilferers become that Halifax was granted the right to behead anyone caught stealing cloth worth more than 13 pence. The Gibbet Law was retained until the middle of the seventeenth century and hundreds fell victim to its blade.

All that remains of the gibbet itself is its base and steps now preserved as an ancient monument and enclosed in a garden off Gibbet Street near the town centre.







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