Emily Bronte set `Wuthering Heights' in the West Yorkshire moors. Now television series are filmed here. The cloth mills are silent. The smoke and grime is lifting. And the area is having success as a tourist attraction. FROM Hell, Hull, and Halifax may the good Lord deliver us'' was the pious request of those who had reason to fear any of the alliterated destinations. It is, of course, a very long time since anyone faced deportation from Hull, or the gibbet in the streets of Halifax for stealing cloth, upon which the livelihood of many in the shadow of the Pennine Hills depended.
Whether you call it Pennine Yorkshire to indicate its geographical location, or West Yorkshire to give it its new official local government title, the area will be best known to many as the West Riding of Yorkshire.
And perhaps it is just as well that the area has a new name. The ancient name had become synonymous with heavy industry, especially that of cloth manufacturing -- the ``dark satanic mills'' of a 19th-century hymn. A pall of smoke and grime hung over the whole area and the preoccupation of as many as were able was to get away as often as possible.
In a transformation that only 10 years ago would been have unthinkable, Bradford City Corporation is promoting Pennine Yorkshire as a tourist attraction. The idea is gaining momentum and leading other authorities in the area to follow suit.
The incoming tide of technological revolution has overtaken the old heavy industries and left the Victorian multistory factories high and dry, like great whales stranded on the shore. Few of the soaring chimneys remain, and many of the factories have been demolished or challenge their owners to find new uses. Now that the smoke has cleared away, the place is being seen in a new light.
The efforts of Bradford City Council might still be making little headway were it not for the welcome help of a few popular television series such as ``Emmerdale Farm,'' filmed near Bradford, and ``Last of the Summer Wine,'' set in Holmfirth.
Television and the growing awareness of the industrial heritage are rapidly transforming West Yorkshire's image from one of ``muck and money'' to tourist attraction.
Thousands are already making pilgrimages to their favorite television locations, joining those who have been coming to Haworth for far longer to see the famous parsonage, home of the Bront"e family.
Haworth is indeed set in the ``Wuthering Heights'' of the Pennine Hills, midway between Bradford and Halifax. Its literary connection long ago made it world famous, and now that its accustomed glow of publicity has turned into a glare, its old friends would scarcely recognize it.
But Haworth and other rugged hilltop villages such as Heptonstall are being rescued from near-dereliction to cater to the visitors who drive and walk into them in increasing numbers. As the grime of a sooty century is cleaned away, the great charm of sturdy stone cottages -- set in an uncompromised landscape outlined with endless dry stone walls of indeterminate age -- is coming vividly to life.
There is no doubt about it; those who can take to the hills and walk should do so. At first the hillsides appear somewhat daunting, great stretches of moorland with hardly a tree in sight.
But getting away from the main roads there are discoveries to be made -- steep wooded valleys or cloughs with soft-water streams rushing through them to the textile mills below, and great outcrops of millstone grit proudly resisting, and yet molded by, the sometimes harsh weather. The moorlands have changed since Emily Bront"e invited the world to share her intense impression of them.
Down in the valleys the picture is very different. The once despised industrial past is now all the rage. Mills and machines are being dusted off and turned into museums, and Halifax and Bradford are just discovering that they are full of architectural treasures.
The money that went with the ``muck'' frequently commissioned the finest architects of the day for factories, churches, chapels, almshouses, and residences of all shapes and sizes. Listers Mill in Bradford and Titus Salt's mill in his model village of Saltaire -- by Lockwood & Mawson, who also designed Bradford City Hall -- are strongly reminiscent of the glories of Florence and Venice.
Halifax especially has miraculously managed to preserve many of its 18th- as well as 19th-century buildings and now presents as complete a Victorian manufacturing town as can be found anywhere.
Yorkshire folk are renowned for being warm and unpretentious (rather like their food), and that is something, I'm glad to say, that has not changed.