Hebden Bridge - a Yorkshire town with an independent streak

On entering many towns and villages these days we’re often greeted by signposts with a reminder to “please drive carefully” or informing us that it’s twinned with a place somewhere in Europe that you’ve probably never heard of.
Hebden Bridge is a creative place. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.Hebden Bridge is a creative place. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Hebden Bridge is a creative place. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

In Hebden Bridge, though, they like to do things a little differently and as you drive into the bustling Pennine market town a sign simply reads: “Hebden Bridge – 500 years of creativity.”

Back in the 1970s, Holmfirth was dubbed Yorkshire’s “Left Bank”, but these days it’s an epithet that seems to have been passed on to Hebden Bridge.

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Clinging to the verdant walls of the Calder Valley, as this photograph captures admirably, Hebden is a striking town in an even more striking location.

Perhaps it’s this enclosed, slightly remote location that fuels its long held independent streak and the off-kilter approach to life of many who live here.

Three years ago it was crowned Britain’s Best Small Market Town at the Great British High Street Awards, and it has also been praised for its vibrant arts scene and eco-friendly policies, such as encouraging people to stop using plastic shopping bags – long before it became the norm.

Historically, Hebden Bridge played a key role in the wool trade in the North, but more recently it has gained a reputation as a thriving cultural hub with numerous festivals including an annual blues festival which attracts bands and musicians from around the world.

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That’s not to say the town has been without its hardships. 2012 might be fondly remembered for the London Olympics and a golden summer of sport, but while we basked in the warm glow of the collective spirit it engendered, the weather for many people that June and July was dreadful, and few places suffered more than Hebden Bridge which was flooded twice in the space of just a few weeks.

It has been submerged since, most notably during the Boxing Day floods of 2016, and yet in spite of these hardships, and perhaps because of them, it continues to flourish.

Technical details; 1/250 sec f/11 ISO 250 35mm Nikon D4