Thursday, 9 July 2015

From Spinning Wool to Spinning Tales – Calderdale reinvents itself as a hotbed for film and TV production

Calderdale in Yorkshire has been well known as the centre of wool manufacture and spinning mills, since the 15th century with high numbers of water-powered mills meandering along the valleys of the Calder River. In the 19th century the area took a central role in the Industrial Revolution with steam powered mills expanding rapidly into its easily accessible villages. So it comes as no surprise that the entrepreneurial textile towns in West Yorkshire have been able to reinvent themselves in recent years as a pretty gritty backdrop for some of TV’s most attention grabbing fictional shows.

Much of this new found fame is thanks to Yorkshire-born writer Sally Wainwright whose affiliation with Halifax and the Calderdale towns she grew up amongst has seen their meteoric rise in popularity. Wainwright epitomises the creative, straight-talking, fun and inventive nature of Yorkshire folk, which comes through in spades in her work.

Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley are two shows by Sally Wainwright that have been realised by Manchester-based Red Production Company.  It has been well documented that much of series one of romantic comedy drama Last Tango in Halifax was actually filmed in Lancashire and that Wainwright requested more scenes of series two to be filmed in Halifax town, to improve its authenticity.

As well as filming in Halifax’s precinct areas and local cafes, the production team chose Jacobean manor Holdsworth House, three miles from Halifax town centre, as the setting for several Last Tango escapades, including the finale scene when lead characters Alan and Celia tied the knot.

Wainwright’s powerful storytelling went on to astound viewers in Happy Valley. Set in Hebden Bridge in Calderdale, the increasingly dramatic twists and turns of the spine-tingling plot were nail biting and the script undoubtedly helped bag another BAFTA and the 2015 Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards and a British Screenwriter’s Award.

With some of Wainwright’s feats - including Scott and Bailey and Coronation Street - surely confirming her as one of Britain’s best screenwriters, her work, along with the efforts of regional agency Screen Yorkshire and Creative England, has placed Calderdale as one of the most popular places for film companies to use in the North.  Kindle Entertainment recently chose Halifax as the production base for creating Henry ‘The Fonz’ Winkler’s children’s TV show Hank Zipzer. Interestingly, production firms cite the availability of excellent local crew, good motorway and airport networks and quality hotel accessibility as several reasons for them choosing Calderdale.

Creating series two of Happy Valley has brought Sally Wainwright back to Calderdale recently and you can see her in ‘Conversation with British actors George Costigan and Judy Holt’ at the Square Chapel in Halifax on Wednesday 30th September 2015. The event is sold out but you can win two tickets and overnight stay with breakfast and pre-theatre dinner for two courtesy of four star hotel Holdsworth House Hotel & Restaurant in Halifax (shortlisted for Large Hotel of the Year at the Welcome to Yorkshire awards). Plus you’ll get a box set of Last Tango in Halifax courtesy of Square Chapel.

For full terms and conditions see

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Shortlisted for Large Hotel of the Year

It's not every day that the postman delivers a letter you're nervous to open. Today we received one stamped 'Welcome to Yorkshire' so we opened it with trepidation. Inside we read that Holdsworth House has been shortlisted as Large Hotel of the Year in the 2015 regional awards, run by Welcome to Yorkshire.

Perhaps we should have basked in our confidence. Perhaps we should never have doubted that we'd make the final. But these are the thoughts of complacent fools. As soon as we think we're that good, we stop trying as hard. The truth is that being recognised as one of God's Own Country's best hotels is just rewards for the efforts that the team delivers every day. So we'll tuck the commendation under our belts with thanks and continue to care for every guest the best we can.

(Well done team.)

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Tripadvisor Hall of Fame

Being British we don't like to blow our own trumpet too often, but we're reluctant to sweep our recent win under the carpet too; it's cost us.

For five consecutive years Holdsworth House in Halifax has won the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence, which puts the Jacobean manor made famous recently for its role in Last Tango in Halifax, into the Tripadvisor Hall of Fame.

So what? We hear you cry. Well it's more than a little badge to wear proudly on the hotel's lapel. It represents five years of saying yes to guests when the easy option is to say no. It's five years of beaming our way through (the occasional) day when we're feeling low. It's five years of toil and hard graft - and for anyone working in hospitality, you know it to be a tough job: lugging around furniture, cooking in a busy banqueting kitchen, and we reckon that's 49,300 beds housekeeping has changed in the time!

So this time we'll blow our little trumpet as loud as we can for our big team effort. It has been absolutely worth it to gain a loyal following of guests; the badge makes it all the more sweeter.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Try the Tour De Yorkshire Cycle Route

Calling all keen cyclists! You cannot have failed to miss 2014's Grand Depart coverage of Yorkshire: the crowds were incredible - perhaps you were in them!

Not happy with hosting the world's greatest cycling race, Yorkshire has gone one wheel revolution further in 2015 and is soon to host its own cycling event, the Tour de Yorkshire. The great news? It's coming to Calderdale, which means that Holdsworth House is best placed for trying your legs on the infamous hills and valleys of the nearby Tour de Yorkshire route.

Sir Bradley Wiggins is already signed up to take part in the event, helping to further raise the profile of what is rumoured to become the flagship cycling event in the UK cycling calendar.

Well set up for accomodating groups of cyclists Holdsworth House makes a popular leisure destination for weekend or midweek cyclists. We can offer safe lock up of bikes overnight, washdown facilities for off-roaders, single, twin and double rooms and of course some fabulous (calorie packed if you'd like) food to provide you with the best send off, we'll even do packed lunches for you.

Calderdale is a fantastic destination for cycling and mountain biking or family bike rides. See some brilliant routes here and check out the events taking place this year:

To book accommodation or to find out more about cycling breaks at Holdsworth House visit here or call 01422 240024.

Pictures courtesy of Cycle Calderdale

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Winter Wedding - Is it right for you?

Every bride wants her wedding to be special and memorable. The 'wedding season' has traditionally run from May to September in the UK when there's more chance of warm weather. For a wedding venue like Holdsworth House, the benefit of a summer wedding is that the gardens also come into their own from spring. Blue Johnson geraniums, marigolds and clemetis are frequently see packing the borders or climbing the walls.

In the 90s however more and more couples began exploring the option of getting married overseas. The British weather can't always be relied upon to deliver glorious wall to wall sunshine so the appeal of a beach wedding on warmer shores is understandable. But often the expense, the beurocracy of ensuring the marriage is legal and the fact that many guests won't be able to join the special occasion are largely inhibiting factors that put couples off.

Most will agree that when the sun does shine, there's no better place to be than in glorious England. Beautiful architecture, dramatic landscapes and great food, particularly in God's Own County, mean that bagging a Yorkshire venue for your wedding offers plenty to look forward to.

Why do so many couples pin so much of their hopes on the weather? After all it's the one thing about a wedding you can't control. Summertime will be warmer but whether you're graced with sunshine, rain, showers, rainbows, wind or an overcast day is another thing. What's pretty certain about a winter wedding is being blessed with a cooler climate! We say once you choose your date, forget about the weather - it will do its own thing and us Brits are well versed in preparing for any eventuality.

The benefit of a winter wedding is that it's different. Think back 30 years, no-one got married in winter. Today some brides or grooms find a winter wedding gives guests a real, exciting break from the norm: summer holidays are over and people are back to work, fake tanning creams are back in the cupboard and there's a bit of a lull either side of Christmas. Holding your wedding in winter usually offers you a price benefit too as there are fewer couples vying for a handful of key dates.

Then there's the venue dressing to consider. In summer you dress your room but might spend much of the time outdoors in the beautiful grounds. Close to Christmas is different though and at Holdsworth House we take venue dressing seriously. From November we bring in designer Susy Stirrup to weave her magic touch into the house to make it all festive, providing a pretty, twinkly background for any wedding photographer.

There are some fabulous seasonal foods out in winter too that you just can't get in summer, or that simply don't work on a warm wedding day - like mulled wine or delicious homemade root soups.

As an historical building like Holdsworth house (which was built before the likes of central heating and loft insulation, which we now have of course!) features were made of the large stone fireplaces so there's nothing better than coming in to seeing these roaring and crackling away; it's a cosy yet opulent feel and smell that takes you back to a bygone era.

As for blue skies, we've seen our most stunning photographs captured with the low winter sun filtering through the mullioned windows. Robins, hedgehogs all live in the grounds in winter and in recent history there's never been a day the hotel has had to close due to adverse weather. But whilst we can't promise a sprinkling of frost or snow, when it comes it's the stuff of picture postcards. Bliss!

Winer wedding gallery
Winter wedding package