Friday, November 10, 2006

Wainhouse Tower in trouble

Apologies if I seem fixated on Yorkshire towers, but our most local landmark seems to be in dire straits.

The Halifax Courier reports:
HALIFAX'S historic Wainhouse Tower – shut to the public a year ago – will stay closed indefinitely.
Calderdale Council says safety problems at the 130-year-old landmark are worsening.
And current funding means renovations will not be considered until April at the earliest.
A regular inspection of the tower revealed problems with ornate masonry at its top.

The paper's leader rightly notes:
It is a lovely piece of history and a unique piece of architecture worth keeping. The question is should our council tax be spent on its renovation?
Surely it is a cause worthy of English Heritage or the National Trust who could maintain this unique piece of social history for future generations. Its story, so tied up with the area's industrial past, is worth telling in a display or small museum at the bottom and with some careful thought it could become not only a well-known landmark but a tourist attraction in its own right.

A brief background on the Wainhouse Tower, from my Strange Attractor essay on unusual aspects of local history -
This dark stone folly, rising some 75 metres above an overgrown cemetery, was erected by John Edward Wainhouse in the 1870s. It was meant to serve as a chimney for the dyeworks he'd inherited on Washer Lane, some 100 metres further down the valley slope. The dyeworks were sold off before construction was complete, and Wainhouse had the octagonal structure topped by an ornate observatory, reached by 369 steps winding around the chimney flue. Some reckon this was his intention all along – to build himself a platform where he could overlook the estate of a local rival. Some versions of the story say Wainhouse wanted to spy on his rival's wife. Some give his monument the name of the Tower of Spite.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calderdale Council must be mad.
Any other place in Britain would be proud to have this monument in their town, and use it as an icon of the area and to attract tourists.
Calderdale have the tower and the Piece hall, and have consistently regarded them as liabilities rather than assets.
Those whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad (Euripedes).

5:01 pm, March 11, 2008  

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