Holy Trinity Church, Halifax
The church was built in 1798, by the then Vicar of Halifax Rev Henry William Coulthurst. At the time, with the vigorous growth of the town particularly around the existing Parish church in the valley. It became apparent a new church would be required to serve the population near the top of the town.
Rev. Coulthurst was the prime mover in a scheme, requiring sanction by Act of Parliament, which would ultimately allow him to build the first new church in Halifax. The church with galleries, pews, communion Holy Trinity Church has the distinction of being the only Parish Church for which a special Act of Parliament was obtained. The Bill also provided for the furnishing of plate and other ornaments and gave power to the Vicar to raise money from the rental of the pews and part of the burial ground. A proviso for the incumbent was that he had to be a graduate of either Oxford or Cambridge.
The church was designed by Thomas Johnson of Leeds (some accounts attribute the work to William Bradley, a Halifax man who was also responsible for the Piece Hall). It is one of the most distinguished neo-classical churches in the region and one of the finest buildings of the late Georgian period in Halifax. It is rectangular in shape, the longer side running north to south with a clock tower at the south end. The church was more like the non-conformists chapels than a Parish Church. There was no chancel and the altar was on a raised platform between the doorways, with the pulpit to one side. The whole building is finished in Ashlar stone, apart from the protruding central section of the east side which has a temple portico with engaged Ionic columns.
The clock in the tower is dated 1818 and inscribed by the maker, Titus Bankcroft of Sowerby Bridge. An inscription on the pendulum reads “The church was erected 1798 by Henry William Coulthurst DD 27 years Vicar of Halifax”. The church was consecrated by The Bishop of Llandaff, The Right Rev Richard Watson, who was also a noted pamphleteer and writer.
The first minister was The Rev. Samuel Knight, Fellow of Magdalen College, Cambridge and son of Titus Knight the first minister of Square Chapel, Halifax. In 1847 the average congregation was 600 with representatives from many well known Halifax families, including The Rawsons of Stoney Royd, Dysons of Willow Field, Edwards of Pye Nest and Michael Stocks of Shibden Head.
Holy Trinity Church schools were founded in 1815 and continue to this day.
Photographs exist of major internal roof works around the late 19th early 20th Century. Major works were again required following investigation of the roof in 1956. The congregation moved out and held services at Savile Hall for approximately 2 years. The final repair bill was £8,000, a significant sum in the 1950s. However the once scruffy plain ceiling was replaced with neo-Georgian plasterwork and the whole building redecorated in an aesthetically sympathetic manor, a credit to the architect Mr Coutts.
The sweeping changes to the whole ministry of the church in Halifax proposed in the early 1970s never came to fruition at Holy Trinity. However a quinquenial survey of 1977 raised further doubts of the integrity of the roof structure and estimates of £200,000 were mooted. The PCC representing a congregation of 50 - 60 decided that even if they had the money to repair the roof, revenues were insufficient to continue running the building. They therefore proposed to seek a redundancy order and thus began a second exile in the wilderness of Savile Hall which this time was to last 30 years. It certainly exemplified to the Holy Trinity congregation that the church is people - and a building secondary.
Over the years several schemes to build a new church were considered by the PCC but all foundered. When it was realised that a new church was not viable with the level of attendances at the time all the money raised was used towards the apse and stained glass window in the new Holy Trinity primary school built following the fire which totally destroyed the infant’s school.
Following the closure of the church building in 1978 the building subsequently suffered from the inevitable water penetration, vandals and malignant dry rot. However, with the assistance of English Heritage it was saved from total collapse, by an ambitious conversion scheme put together by architects Richard and Jill Wilson of Oddy and Sykes. The conversion has retained many of the original features: the undivided interior, the raised altar platform and the tall stained glass windows within their arched recess. Now occupied by Trinity Insurance the building provides spacious open-plan accommodation which has a striking resemblance to the original underwriting room of Lloyd’s of London.
Following the death of Fr. James Rushworth at Holy Trinity in 1980, the Archdeacon of Halifax, The Ven. John Alford, together with the Diocesan Pastoral Committee decided the town centre of Halifax would be best served by a team ministry consisting of St. John the Baptist (Halifax Parish Church) Holy Trinity and St. Mary’s with St. James church, Rhodes Street. On the retirement of Canon Raymond Harries at St. John's, a new team ministry was established and an order in council presented to Her Majesty the Queen on the 22nd December 1982 created the team ministry.
The Team Rector was The Rev. Robert Gibson, and The Rev. Medwyn Griffiths was appointed team vicar with responsibility for Holy Trinity and St. Mary's with St. James. He was succeeded in due course by Rev. Michael Brundle and The Rev. Doctor Geoffrey Calvert. Upon the retirement of Rev. Robert Gibson it was decided to disband the town centre team and The Rev. Geoffrey Calvert was instituted as vicar of Holy Trinity and St. Jude’s (following the departure of Rev. David Lockyer from St. Jude’s). When The Rev Geoffrey Calvert moved away to St Albans the Rev Martin Russell was appointed Vicar of Holy Trinity and St. Jude’s.
In due course the two parishes were merged to form the parish of Holy Trinity and St. Jude and the Holy Trinity congregation ceased worshiping at Savile Hall and joined with St. Jude’s congregation at St. Jude’s church.