A Halifax Alms Race

Although this postcard was not postally used – and therefore has no convenient postmark on the back to help date it – we can be reasonably sure it dates from that first decade of the twentieth century, when picture postcards were the Twitter of their day. The card shows Sir Francis Crossley’s Almshouses which are on Margaret Street, just off Lister Lane in Halifax. The almshouses were built in 1855, just next to the home of Sir Francis Crossley, Belle View, which can be seen to the left in this view. The almshouses provided accommodation for the elderly, and to qualify for a place you needed to be at least 60 years of age, without adequate means of support, of good character, having had a religious upbringing, and being incapacitated from work by age, disease and infirmity. Whilst this list of provisions may sound somewhat restrictive, one can only wonder at an age when the rich were prepared to provide accommodation for the poor and destitute – at the bottom of their own gardens!

Those familiar with Halifax will know that there are two sets of Crossley Almshouses in the town, on opposite sides of People’s Park. They were built by the two brothers, Frank and Joseph Crossley, and both still exist today. The Francis Crossley Almshouses, pictured above, predate those built by his brother Joseph on Arden Road, but there is a similar architectural style displayed in both buildings. Whilst the Frank Crossley Almshouses were designed for the poor and elderly of the district, the Joseph Crossley Almshouses were originally intended for the retired workers from Crossley’s carpet mills.

The Crossley family left an indelible architectural mark on the town of Halifax which can still be seen today, and Halifax is a more fascinating town because of it.

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