Wainhouse Tower: The Tallest Folly

Jul 18, 2019 0 comments

Wainhouse Tower, standing high on a hill in the King Cross area of Halifax, is the tallest structure in Calderdale and a prominent landmark that can be seen for miles around. It has been called the world’s tallest folly because it never got to be used for the purpose for which it was constructed. It’s also associated with an interesting legend.

The tower was commissioned as a chimney by John Edward Wainhouse, who owned the local dye works, in order to comply with the new smoke abatement act of 1870. Wainhouse, who had a good appreciation of architecture, wanted the chimney to be an object of beauty.

Wainhouse Tower

Wainhouse Tower in Halifax, England. Photo credit: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock.com

Work on the chimney commenced in 1871 using locally quarried stone. Unfortunately, Wainhouse had to sell off the dye works before the chimney was completed, but he kept the chimney for himself. Now no longer a chimney, Wainhouse modified the design finishing off the half-completed structure as a tower, adding a striking cupola to the top with two galleries around the outside. The tower was completed in 1875.

Wainhouse had a landowning activist named Sir Henry Edwards for neighbor, with whom he had a long-running feud. Edwards objected to Wainhouse’s dye works polluting the atmosphere and campaigned heavily against the operation of the factory. Because of this conflict it has been suggested that Wainhouse had built the tower just to spite his neighbor.

Local folklore goes that Edwards had boasted that he had the most private estate in Halifax, into which no one could see. In response, Wainhouse erected the tall tower which gave him a clear view of Edward’s lands.

The tower was taken over by the Halifax County Borough Council in 1918 and has been open to visitors ever since. It stands 253 feet tall and has over four hundred steps to the top.

Wainhouse Tower

Aerial view of Wainhouse Tower. Photo credit: Alastair Wallace/Shutterstock.com

Wainhouse Tower

Aerial view of Wainhouse Tower. Photo credit: Alastair Wallace/Shutterstock.com

Wainhouse Tower

Base of the Wainhouse Tower. Photo credit: Alastair Wallace/Shutterstock.com


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