Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire

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© Ambrose113/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Ambrose113/cc-by-sa-4.0

Hebden Bridge is a market town in the Calderdale district of West Yorkshire, England. It is in the Upper Calder Valley, 8 miles (13 km) west of Halifax and 14 miles (21 km) north-east of Rochdale, at the confluence of the River Calder and the Hebden Water. The town is the largest settlement in the civil parish of Hebden Royd.

In 2015, the Calder ward, covering Hebden Bridge, Old Town, and part of Todmorden, had a population of 12,167. The town had a population of 4,500. Hebden Bridge is known as “the lesbian capital of the UK”.

Hebden Bridge has built a reputation for “great little shops” and has an unusually high density of independent shops for a UK town of its size with more than 20 cafes and tea rooms, and about 20 pubs, micro pubs and restaurants. In a national survey by the New Economics Foundation in 2010 Hebden Bridge was ranked sixth on a diversity scale and was praised for its independent shops and unique shopping experience. The Fox and Goose, West Yorkshire’s first Co-Operative pub, is owned by 262 residents of Hebden Bridge. It was established in March 2014.

In February 2016, Hebden Bridge won as the “Best Small Outdoor Market” in the Great British Market Awards run by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA). In December 2016, Hebden Bridge won the “Great British High Street Award” in the “Small Market Town” category, after most shops, cafes and businesses had bounced back better and more flood resilient than before the Boxing Day floods 2015; Hebden Bridge also won a second award as the People’s Choice.

Rochdale Canal © Ambrose274/cc-by-sa-4.0 Calder Valley around Hebden Bridge © Scott L. Cockroft © Ambrose113/cc-by-sa-4.0 Bridge Gate © Poliphilo © flickr.com - Tim Green/cc-by-2.0 Former Co-op Building © Poliphilo Gibson Mill, 19th Century cotton mill © flickr.com - Tim Green/cc-by-2.0
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Gibson Mill, 19th Century cotton mill © flickr.com - Tim Green/cc-by-2.0
The original settlement was the hilltop village of Heptonstall. Hebden Bridge (Heptenbryge) started as a settlement where the Halifax to Burnley packhorse route dropped into the valley and crossed the River Hebden where the old bridge (from which it gets its name) stands. The name Hebden comes from the Anglo-Saxon Heopa Denu, ‘Bramble (or possibly Wild Rose) Valley’.

Steep hills with fast-flowing streams and access to major wool markets meant that Hebden Bridge was ideal for water-powered weaving mills and the town developed during the 19th and 20th centuries; it is said that at one time Hebden was known as “Trouser Town” because of the large amount of clothing manufacturing. Watercolour artist Thomas Frederick Worrall, who lived in nearby Pecket Well, depicted the mills in around 1900. Drainage of the marshland, which covered much of the Upper Calder Valley before the Industrial Revolution, enabled construction of the road which runs through the valley. Before it was built, travel was only possible via the ancient packhorse route which ran along the hilltop, dropping into the valleys wherever necessary. The wool trade was served by the Rochdale Canal (running from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester) and the Manchester & Leeds Railway (later the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway) (running from Leeds to Manchester and Burnley).

Hebden Bridge also grew to include a Picture House (seating 500), which remains open to present day, and offices for Hebden Bridge Urban District Council. Hebden Bridge has no swimming pool, although for some years there was a small training pool for children in the adult education centre on Pitt Street. Hebden Bridge had its own cooperative society but, during the 1960s, it was defrauded and went bankrupt. The old Co-op building became a hotel and was later converted into flats. The Co-op returned in the 1980s with a supermarket on Market Street, on the site of an old mill.

During the Second World War Hebden Bridge was designated a “reception area” and took in evacuees from industrial cities.

During the 1970s and 1980s the town saw an influx of artists, writers, photographers, musicians, alternative practitioners, teachers, Green and New Age activists and more recently, wealthier ‘yuppie‘ types This in turn saw a boom in tourism to the area. During the 1990s Hebden Bridge became a commuter town, because of its proximity to major towns and cities both sides of the Pennines and its excellent rail links to Manchester, Bradford and Leeds.

On 6 July 2003, Hebden Bridge was granted Fairtrade Zone status. On 6 July 2014, Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour de France, from York to Sheffield, passed through the town.

Read more on VisitCalderdale.com – Hebden Bridge, Wikivoyage Hebden Bridge and Wikipedia Hebden Bridge (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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