It’s amazing what a difference a mile or two and a little bit of snobbery can make when it comes to property values. Sowerby Bridge is a prime example. Prices here are low compared to the more affluent villages that surround it.
The average two-bedroom terraced house in Sowerby Bridge is about £100,000 and a couple of miles down the road in Ripponden, the price for a property of the same style and square footage is £150,000.
One well-informed local who moved up the road and “upmarket” says: “People in Ripponden would never dream of moving to Sowerby Bridge but I loved living there. “It’s buzzing with a great vibe and some fantastic, independent shops, pubs and cafes. People are down-to-earth and friendly. I often wish I was back there.”
While most of the neighbours don’t appreciate what is on their doorstep, outsiders have started to notice. Estate agents are seeing more buyer enquiries from outside the town from those who have spotted the potential offered by Sowerby Bridge, which is close to Halifax and five miles from Hebden Bridge.
Philip Garnett, of Dacre, Son and Hartley, said: “There is definitely more interest in it from people outside of the area and that’s because it is affordable and it has good amenities and transport links to Bradford, Leeds and Manchester. There’s some drift from Hebden Bridge because prices there are now quite a bit higher.” He adds that Sowerby Bridge is “a very vibrant, bustling place”.
It is well provided for with a Tesco and an Aldi, some excellent independent shops, cafes and restaurants and a thriving nightlife. There’s also a swimming pool and fitness centre and easy access to countryside and waterside walks. The town has two rivers and two canals at its heart, which also creates a flood risk for some low-lying properties, though many homes sit on hillsides.
Transport links are good. It is a 15-minute drive to the M62 outside rush hours, and has a railway station with trains to Leeds via Bradford and to Manchester. The journey by rail to the cities is about 45 minutes.
A scene featured in the last episode of TV’s Last Tango in Halifax was filmed at Sowerby Bridge train station, perhaps on the suggestion of Sally Wainwright, who wrote the much-loved BBC series. Parts of her other hit series, Happy Valley, were also filmed in the town. She grew up in Sowerby Bridge and went to the high school there. The school was also the alma mater of fashion designer Christopher Bailey.
Jim Leach and Lee Carney, who co-own Wood and Wire, a contemporary kitchen manufacturer in Hebden Bridge, moved to Sowerby Bridge six years ago. “We lived in Hebden Bridge in a small, very dark terraced house. We wanted something lighter and bigger with a view and we looked here because house prices were cheaper, which meant we got more for our money,” says Lee. “The quick access to the M62 was also a factor.”
Most of the housing stock is largely terraced rows, which are a legacy of Sowerby Bridge’s heyday as a mill town. Edward Cartwright, of William H. Brown estate agents, says: “We have had a very busy start to the year.
"Buyers are mostly local but more people are discovering Sowerby Bridge because it is a good commuter town and house prices here are relatively affordable. Sowerby Bridge is halfway between Leeds and Manchester and that is a big selling point.