Wainhouse Tower is a folly in the parish of King Cross, on the south west side of Halifax, Calderdale, West Yorkshire, in England. At 275 feet (84 m), it is the tallest structure in Calderdale and the tallest folly in the world, and was erected in four years between 1871-1875. The main shaft is octagonal in shape with a square base and 403 stairs leading to the first of two viewing platforms.
One driving force behind the erection of the viewing platforms was a long standing feud between Wainhouse and his neighbour, land owner Sir Henry Edwards. Edwards had boasted that he had the most private estate in Halifax, into which no one could see. As the estate was on land adjacent to the chimney's site, following the opening of the viewing platforms, Edwards could never claim privacy again.
The tower was designed by architect Isaac Booth as a chimney to serve the dye works owned by John Edward Wainhouse (1817-1883). The height of the chimney was to satisfy the Smoke Abatement Act of 1870 which required the building of a tall chimney, to carry smoke out of the valleys in which the factories were built. A much simpler chimney would have satisfied the requirements but Wainhouse insisted that it should be an object of beauty.
In 1874 John Wainhouse sold the mill to his works manager who refused to pay the cost of building the chimney so Wainhouse kept the tower for himself and used it as an observatory. Booth left after a dispute and was replaced by another local architect, Richard Swarbrick Dugale, who is responsible for the elaborate galleries and the corona dome at the top of the tower. The tower was completed on 9 September 1875, at a cost of £14,000.
The tower is open to the public during bank holidays.
In 2006, the Wainhouse Tower was forced to shut, due to safety problems. Work to repair the tower began in July 2008 and took about five months to complete. As part of 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 reopened to the general public on 4 May 2009. The restoration work was completed at a total cost of £400,000.
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