Heritage Town

Halifax History Blog

Wainhouse Tower, Listed Grade II

Wainhouse’s Tower, or Wainhouse’s Folly, was built by the industrialist John Edward Wainhouse, who owned the Washer Lane Dye Works in south Halifax. In 1870, the Smoke Abatement Act made it necessary to build tall chimneys to carry smoke away and plans were drawn up. Wainhouse sold the factory before the chimney was finished but decided to keep that section and decided to transform it into “a general astronomical and physical observatory”. The tower was finally completed in 1875 by the architect Richard Swarbrick Dugdale at a total cost of £14,000 in an elaborate style. The slender tower rises 275ft and is decorated with both gothic and neo-renaissance features. A rival claimed Wainhouse only built the tower to keep an eye on his activities.

In 2006, Wainhouse Tower was closed because of safety problems. Work to repair it began in July 2008 and took about five months. During the restoration, the top section of the tower was partly dismantled and rebuilt, decorative sections and part of the main shaft were repointed, missing stone finials replaced, the drainage system improved, corroded ironwork replaced and cracks at the base of the tower fixed. The tower was reopened to the general public on 4 May 2009

The Tower is open to the public on Bank Holidays and other select days through the year. For those brave enough to tackle the 403 steps to the viewing gallery at the top, the stunning views make it worth the climb.