Gentleman Jack, The Piece Hall and Marvel help boost tourism numbers in Calderdale

Most recent research shows tourism numbers are up by almost a quarter over a four year period in Calderdale – thanks in no part to some hit TV and films which have been shot in the area.

Calderdale is set to celebrate its Year of Culture from April, following a soft launch at the start of the year, and the council considers tourism to be a growing and important part of its economy.

In recent years this has been enhanced by an increasing number of television and film productions being made using locations in the borough.

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From Sally Wainwright’s creation Gentleman Jack, which became an Anglo-U.S. hit telling the story of 19th century Halifax landowner and lesbian Anne Lister, to Marvel’s movie Secret Invasion, visitors from further and further afield have been attracted to Calderdale.

Halifax's Piece HallHalifax's Piece Hall
Halifax's Piece Hall

The latter also utilised the historic heritage and business site The Piece Hall – renovated for £19 million and re-opened in 2017 – on screen, with the Piece Hall Trust arguing a main driving force behind it is to bring people in and boost Calderdale’s wider economy.

Latest research, based on 2022 figures, show that tourism in Calderdale is worth an estimated £431 million, supporting nearly 9,000 jobs within the borough.

This is an increase of 24 per cent from previously available 2018 figures, showing that despite considerable challenges, including the pandemic, local flooding and the ongoing cost of living crisis, Calderdale’s visitor economy continues to grow, says the council, marking English Tourism Week , which runs until March 24.

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The council says the popularity of Calderdale for filming has continued and in 2023, 31 productions carried out more than 100 days of filming within Calderdale, adding an estimated £856,000 to the regional economy.

Diverse locations have seen it stand in for locations around the world, including in the upcoming TV series, A Gentleman in Moscow, featuring Ewan MacGregor, where Halifax Town Hall is used as the historic Metropol Hotel in Moscow.

The Year of Culture marks Calderdale’s 50th birthday as a borough with events planned to involve communities along its length and breadth.

The council’s cabinet member for towns, tourism and voluntary sector, Coun Sarah Courtney, said the latest figures confirmed what the authority already know about the borough’s growing reputation as a visitor destination.

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“There really is something for everyone, whether it’s finding out more about our fascinating heritage, spotting iconic film locations, enjoying walks in our beautiful and plentiful countryside or shopping in our towns filled with independent shops.

“We’re proud of our tourism offer and cultural diversity and look forward to celebrating during English Tourism Week and beyond, into our Year of Culture,” she said.

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