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Hebden Bridge

Hebden Bridge

Hebden Bridge is a town of 4,325 people (2011 census) in the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale, and the county of West Yorkshire. It's at the confluence of Hebden Water and the river Calder. Because of the steep valley sides, it sometimes suffers from flooding. 

Hebden Bridge is said to have the highest number of lesbians per head of population.

Name and history of Hebden Bridge

Rochdale canal, Hebden Bridge

Hebden Bridge, or Heptenbryge, was originally a crossing on the Halifax to Burnley packhorse route. The name 'Hebden' comes from the Anglo-Saxon 'Heopa Denu', meaning bramble, or wild rose, valley.

Hebden Bridge grew at the time of the Industrial Revolution. It was an ideal location for water-powered weaving mills. At one time, it was known as 'Trouser Town', because of the amount of clothing made there. The Rochdale canal, and the railway, were built due to the thriving wool trade.

During the Second World War, Hebden Bridge took evacuees from Britain's industrial cities.

In the 1970s and 80s, there was an influx of writers, artists, photographers, musicians, and green and New Age activists. In the 1990s, Hebden Bridge became a dormitory town for commuters working in West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester. (This was mentioned by the irritating Evan Davis in his programme, broadcast in March 2014, which might as well have been called, 'Isn't London brilliant, aren't I brilliant?' When he wasn't talking about Hebden Bridge, he was mainly prefacing non-insights with the mindless phrase 'here's the thing'.)

Because of the steep valley sides, there are a number of 'over and under' houses in Hebden Bridge. These are dwellings four to five storeys high, which face in two different directions - the upper house facing uphill, and the lower house facing downhill.

Hebden Bridge today

Shoulder of Mutton, and mill, Hebden Bridge  Cycle recycle, Hebden Bridge

As well as being a commuter town, Hebden Bridge is known for its independent shops. There's also some manufacturing, with for example, Walkley clogs in nearby Mytholmroyd. 

A 2009 film suggested that not everyone in Hebden Bridge is a commuter or local business person. Shed Your Tears and Walk Away reports on alcohol and drug use by young people in the town. Here's a trailer:

Hebden Bridge: culture and events

Hebden Bridge Picture House

Hebden Bridge Town Hall was under-used until 2010, when it was taken over by the Hebden Bridge Community Association. This is a group of a few hundred local people, who are the 'friends of the Town Hall'. They have revived the Town Hall, which has community spaces, conferences, business tenants, a cafe, and cultural events (including a piano festival, craft fairs, comedy nights, and music).

Hebden has a Blues Festival (23rd to 25th May 2014), and an Arts Festival (27th June to 5th July 2014) - so the Arts Festival runs right up to the Tour de France, and it'll have bike-related entertainment.

If you follow Hebden Water a short distance north of the town, you come to a National Trust property, Hardcastle Crags. It's a beauty spot in woodland with streams, waterfalls, and footpaths, that's home to the northern hairy wood ant. The visitor centre is in the C19th Gibson Mill.

Tour de France in Hebden Bridge

The official timings for Stage 2 of the Tour show the publicity caravan arriving in Hebden Bridge at 11.47am, and the riders between 1.33 and 1.47pm, depending on their average speed. 

Calderdale Council says the race route will be closed from the early hours of Sunday (6th July 2014) until late afternoon.

This map shows the route of Stage 2 of the Tour de France 2014 through Hebden Bridge:

Tour de France 2014 route through Hebden Bridge