Event: Walk Around the Heritage Trail

In July 2013 a group of us took off for a first look at some of the locations we are interpreting for our Halifax Great War Heritage Trail. This is based on information we have been gathering from research sources such as the local newspapers. We have an interest in the whole of Calderdale but initially we are concentrating on Halifax

Pictured above at Spring Hall from Left to Right : –
John Sunderland, Rob Hamilton, Alan Rhodes, Graham Bradshaw, Carla Spendlove, Richard Spendlove, Anne Wilkinson, Elaine Beach.

Spring Hall Convalescent and Auxiliary Hospital

Spring Hall was originally owned by the Holdsworth family but had several owners before coming into operation as a convalescent and auxiliary hospital in February 1916. Additional bed space was made at Shaw Lodge but that building was demolished in the 1920s.

Left : HGWTA members posing at the modern day location
Centre : Some of the medical staff at Spring Hall (courtesy of the Holdsworth Family)
Right : Patients and medical staff with Spring Hall in background.(courtesy of the Holdsworth Family)

More information can be found on the Holdsworth Family website http://story.theholdsworths.org.uk/pages/spring_hall_halifax.html

Temperance Hotel, Wards End

The Temperance Hotel was the family home of Master George Bentley better known to the Halifax Courier readers as ‘Little Khaki George’. He was one of several very young children who collected money regularly for the ‘Courier Comforts’ fund. Aged only 3 in 1914 he became something of a celebrity with his signature military outfit.
The Temperance Hotel is now called Wards End Chambers and is occupied by Ryley Insurance.

Left : HGWTA members pose outside Wards End Chambers
Right : Postcard of Little Khaki George (courtesy Calderdale Museums Service)

Halifax Town Hall, Crossley Street

Home of the Halifax Council Chambers . This is where most of the Halifax ‘Tribunals’ met to assess applicants putting their case for exemption from the Military Services Act (Conscription). This is an institution that history has largely by-passed but was probably as significant as the Defence of the Realm Act in terms of its importance to local communities.

Opposite : HGWTA members pose outside the famous clock tower.

George’s Square

In March 1918 this is where the ‘Tank Bank’ set up its stall. The key attraction was ‘Egbert’ the tank, a real battle tank which had been withdrawn from active service to tour the country as a kind of road show. It was delivered by rail and trundled its way this location. Its purpose was to sell government war bonds and certificates to help finance the war. The HGWTA members can be seen pointing to where it was positioned.
Another significant occupant of George’s Square was the offices of the Civilian Recruiting Committee. As yet we have not located its exact address.

York Cafe or Restaurant, Commercial Street

This was situated in Alexandra Buildings which today houses the Halifax Building Society. It appears to have been the location where recruits were processed under the ‘Group Scheme’ better known as the Derby Scheme. This was the government’s last attempt to increase voluntary enlistment before the onset of the Military Service Act (Conscription). At this point we cannot be sure of exactly where this was but the windows above have an appearance of a previous cafe.

Halifax Drill Hall, Prescott Street

Initially the military centre for the 4th Battalion (Territorial) West Riding Regiment. Later it was used by the 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion West Riding Regiment. This battalion consisted of an assortment of ‘semi-recruits’ who for one reason or another were not or could not be full members of the armed forces. The local Tribunals would , later in the war, have the authority to send temporarily exempted conscripts to drill with them.

Shakespeare Street, next to Theatre Royal on Southgate

This has changed a lot since the Great War and no longer has private dwellings. At the time No. 7 was the location of the Ambler family. Their children (Herbert and Edna) were, like Khaki George, involved in collecting money for the Courier Comforts Fund. Herbert Ambler was often listed in the Halifax Courier as ‘Herbert and his Dog’

Halifax Cenotaph

This was originally located at Bell Vue, Hopwood Lane, but in the 1980s moved to Duffy’s Park next to the Halifax Minster (Halifax Parish Church in 1914).

Victoria Hall, Wards End

Better known today as the Victoria Theatre. In the Great War it was an obvious location for public meetings and in 1914 it was host to major patriotic/ recruitment meetings. At one point it also doubled up as a temporary barracks to ease congestion at the Halifax Barracks, Gibbet Street.
At the end of the war it was the venue for a ‘Thanksgiving’ service.