Although I was born in Bradford, I was raised in Halifax, and, in particular, in the village of Northowram. It was there that I first wandered the streets, looked at buildings and thought about the past. It was there that I went to school, rode my first bike, and took my first photographs. This particular photograph of Heywood Chapel in Northowram dates from about fifty years ago, by which time I had already moved away from the village. The building was, and is, so typically Northowram. In the 50s and 60s it was still rather stark, soot-stone set against pointless skies: stark. These days it is prettier, with its own little Close of neat houses and bungalows. The current building dates from 1837, although Oliver Heywood built the first chapel here some 160 years before that.
Being a Northowram Lad and having an interest in history, I have always believed that an effort should be made to understand Oliver Heywood, who must be one of the villages’ most famous residents. His religious teachings are documented in five lengthy volumes, and, on more than one occasion, I have approached these with a creditable enthusiasm. Having now reached an age where I care less about what people might think about me, I have to, at last, declare that he was probably one of the most boring people ever to have walked up the Hough and along Towngate. Chapter after chapter he prattles on about sacrifice, sin and intercession – it’s enough to make you want to call in the Shoulder Of Mutton and get legless.
The building, however, is nice. It’s just a shame about the moral philosophy.