Halifax is a town in the county of West Yorkshire, northern England, with a population of about 90,000. It is well known as a centre of England's woollen manufacture from the 15th century onward.
The name Halifax is said to be a corruption of the old English words for Holy and Face, part of the local legend that the head of John the Baptist was buried here after his execution. The legend is almost certainly medieval rather than ancient, though the town's coat of arms still carries an image of the Saint. Halifax Parish Church, parts of which go back to the 12th century, has always been dedicated to St John the Baptist.
Halifax Piece Hall was the cloth hall where the trading of the woollen cloth pieces was done. It was opened on January 1, 1779, was only open for business for two hours on a Saturday morning, and contained 315 merchants' trading rooms. After the mechanisation of the cloth industry, the Piece Hall was used as a public market and still is today. The Calderdale Industrial Museum (now closed) was housed within the Piece Hall. The 'Eureka!' family science museum is also located in the town.
The Town Hall built 1863 was built by Charles Barry who also built the Houses of Parliament. Wainhouse tower is an elaborate factory chimney or folly built for a dye house that was never used dates from 1871. It is now capped with an observation platform reached by an interior spiral staircase.
The Duke of Wellington's Regiment is based at Wellesley Barracks.
Since 1974 Halifax has been the centre of the metropolitan district of Calderdale, part of the metropolitan county of West Yorkshire. Halifax has given its name to a bank Halifax plc which started as a building society in the town. Halifax is a twin town with Aachen in Germany.
Halifax was also notorious for the 'Halifax gibbet', an early form of the guillotine used to execute criminals by decapitation, and last used in 1650. A replica of the gibbet has been erected in Gibbet Street. Law-enforcement in Halifax was notoriously harsh, as remembered in the Beggar's Litany, a prayer whose text was "From Hull, Hell and Halifax, Good Lord deliver us!"