A Flash of Inspiration | Hebden Bridge


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Hebden Bridge

April 12, 2014  •  9 Comments

I last passed through the old mill town of Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire on my way to Haworth - home of the Bronte sisters. Some dreary mill towns on the Lancashire - Yorkshire border feel desperately in need of a little love and attention. Hebden is different and a fine example of regeneration. The sense of a proud diverse community shines through. It's vibrant and quirky. I like the feel of this town. It has all my favourite ingredients of heritage, canals, arts, crafts, independent traders and of course fine tearooms and traditional pubs in abundance!

Traders have passed through the area since medieval times. But the town developed rapidly from the late 1700s thanks to the blooming textile industry. Water-powered weaving mills were built along the bottom of the valley alongside the Rochdale canal, river Calder and railway which were used to transport raw materials and finished goods. 

Photo Hebden Bridge Yorkshire Houses built for the mill workers cling onto the hillside. The roads here are narrow and steep. 

Photo Hebden Bridge Yorkshire

The Rochdale Canal has been restored and is perfect for a boat trip, gentle stroll or more energetic cycle ride.

Photo Hebden Bridge Yorkshire As usual, the remains of rusty old fixtures and fittings dotted here and there draw my attention.

Photo Hebden Bridge Yorkshire Quirky living and working spaces have been created from disused mills and outbuildings.

Photo Hebden Bridge Yorkshire Cycle:Recycle is an inspiring project to restore donated bicycles and sell them on reasonably here at Hebble End Mill.

Photo Hebden Bridge Yorkshire

I discovered a pile of free books hidden around a corner.I spotted a novel by Susan Hill and thought  of my good friend Viv who introduced me to this author. The pages were damp and musty. I clearly read my husband's mind and so resisted the temptation to take it home! 
Photo Hebden Bridge Yorkshire Down a cobbled street I stopped for spicy burritos in this converted mill which was crammed with all sorts of interesting independent traders.

Photo Hebden Bridge Yorkshire Scented bubbles blowing from the inviting Yorkshire Soap Company  wafted across the road. The interior resembled an old-fashioned store with vintage scales and cash registers. 

Photo Hebden Bridge Yorkshire A former Baptist Church has been converted into an arts and crafts centre selling unique handmade pieces of work by local artists.

Photo Hebden Bridge Yorkshire I headed off down the main street in search of an antiques shop I'd visited a few years ago. I found no trace of it. I noticed a few empty shops - likely a sad reflection of the current economic climate. And then I noticed a local campaign to stop a huge supermarket chain from opening a store here. Although I can appreciate both sides of the argument, my sympathies lie with the local independent traders. Closer to home I've witnessed how the arrival of the bland multi-chains in small towns and villages destroy the character - shops which have proudly traded over generations can't compete and fade away for ever, those who remain struggle on. I hope this community continues to thrive.

Photo Hebden Bridge Yorkshire

The weather in these parts can change quickly. As I drove up over the hills the mist and drizzle came down. I briefly agreed with the old saying "it's grim up north"! Well, yes … it was… but it isn't always like this!!

Photo Hebden Bridge Yorkshire

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of Hebden Bridge. 

Ps. for those interested in poetry take a look at the work of local poet and former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes. Often grim but nevertheless fascinating reading from this tortured soul.

PPS. If you're interested in old maps and nautical charts I've started to add a selection from the late 1800s to my Vintage Illustrations Gallery -  they're especially great to blend with textures or simply fascinating to study as a snippet of history. I'll be adding plenty more over the coming weeks from around the world.


Enjoy the week ahead and remember to appreciate the present!


Hi Helen,

I am really enjoying have a browse through your lovely blog. I had to stop here and leave a comment as I am originally from Lancashire, although I have lived in the south for most of my life. I remember Hebden Bridge well from childhood visits - it is lovely to see photos of it as it is today - modernised but still recognisable. I know what you mean about supermarkets - my father was a butcher with a thriving village shop that gradually declined after ASDA came to town. The shop is now a tanning salon - a sign of the times I guess.
Kelly McKenzie(non-registered)
And you've whisked me away for the day once again. Thank you! Such a quirky town. Love the originality of the local shops - the bike shop! the toy shop! the burrito shop! Do hope they manage to keep the big bland box shops away. Kepp on doing your bit Helen. You're rousing the interest of folks to visit! Looking forward to your next post. Where will it take me?
diana foster(non-registered)
Absolutely lovely images
Cindy Swainson(non-registered)
I've missed your wonderful walk-abouts Helen. This was a real treat!
So so wish I could visit I could walk with you love all the history of the area.
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