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A view of Halifax from Beacon Hill
|Halifax shown within West Yorkshire|
|Population||82,056 (2001 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|• London||165 mi (266 km) S|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||Yorkshire and the Humber|
Halifax is a minster town in the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale in West Yorkshire, England. The town has been a centre of woollen manufacture from the 15th century onward, originally dealing through the Piece Hall. Halifax is known for Mackintosh's chocolate and toffee products including Rolo and Quality Street. The Halifax Building Society was also founded in Halifax. Dean Clough, one of the largest textile factories in the world at more than 1⁄2 mile (800 m) long, was in the north of the town. The premises have since been converted for office and retail use including a gym, theatre, Travelodge and radio station.
The town's name was recorded in about 1091 as Halyfax, from the Old English halh-gefeaxe, meaning "area of coarse grass in the nook of land". This explanation is preferred to derivations from the Old English halig (holy), in hālig feax or "holy hair", proposed by 16th century antiquarians. The incorrect interpretation gave rise to two legends. One concerned a maiden killed by a lustful priest whose advances she spurned. Another held that the head of John the Baptist was buried here after his execution. The legend is almost certainly medieval rather than ancient, although the town's coat of arms carries an image of the saint. Another explanation is a corruption of the Old English hay and ley a clearing or meadow. This etymology is based on Haley Hill, the nearby hamlet of Healey (another corruption), and the common occurrence of the surnames Hayley/Haley around Halifax. The erroneous derivation from halig has given rise to the demonym Haligonian, which is of recent origin and not in universal use.
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