A few weeks ago Christine and I went to the Calderdale Industrial Museum in Halifax. The museum opened in 1985, but sadly closed only a few years later and has been mothballed ever since. A group of volunteers called CIMA are working to get the museum open again, and the 10th August was one of their regular open days where visitors could have a look around. I’ve uploaded the photos of my visit to Flickr.
Not all of the museum is accessible; the volunteers have been working for a couple of years but some parts are still out of bounds. However, there are three floors of exhibits, which include stationary engines like the one pictured, weaving machines and histories of some of the major companies that were founded in Halifax. These include Percy Shaw’s catseyes company, Mackintosh – maker of Quality Street and now a part of Nestlé, and the Halifax Bank.
A lot of the windows are still boarded up and not all of the light bulbs had been replaced, so the museum is quite dark. The paintwork on the walls needs some attention as well, as shown in some of my photos.
It was my first visit, but Christine had been as a child, back when the museum was open properly in the 1980s. I think she was disappointed at how the museum had been left to rot for so long. The volunteers have done well but will have their work cut out to get the museum back to where it was when it was closed, never mind taking it forward. I also got the feeling that the local council, which still owns the museum, isn’t being 100% co-operative.
There are also question marks hanging over the museum’s future. It backs on to The Piece Hall, which in January will under-go a 15-month modernisation, and it is next to the proposed site for Halifax’s new central library. The plans may see the museum building being cut down somewhat, although the artists’ impressions do at least show it so hopefully it’ll still be around in future.
There are two more open days planned for 2013, on the 14th and 15th September as part of the national Heritage Open Days events. If you’re in the area I would definitely recommend a visit – it’s easy to get to as it’s just around the corner from Halifax station. Entry is free, but I’m sure CIMA would be delighted if you were able to donate some money to help them get the museum open again more often.