One damp cold winters Sunday found me exploring a gem of a place. Hebdon Bridge is an old textile village in the Calderdale Valley of West Yorkshire. It sits at the confluence of 3 rivers, and also has a canal and train station. All of which added to it’s industrial value. The houses are built on the steep valley sides, with the industrial areas located down by the rivers which supplied water for power.
Known as the “Pennine Centre”, Hebden Bridge takes its name from the packhorse bridge over Hebden Water. The town developed in late medieval times as a river-crossing and meeting point of packhorse routes from Halifax to Heptonstall, Burnley and Rochdale.
Textiles have been important in the Upper Calder Valley for centuries, but it was not until mechanisation and steam power were introduced from the late 18th century that Hebden Bridge began to grow significantly.
Calderdale, a set on Flickr.
Heptonstall sits perched at the top of the valley sides and has buildings dating back to the mid 16th Century.
Historically a centre for hand-loom weaving, it was also the site of a battle in 1643 during the early part of the English Civil War. Heptonstall cottages and terraced houses were characterised by their large first floor windows to maximise the light for weaving.
Heptonstall’s original church was named after St Thomas a Becket, founded circa 1260 and was altered and added to over several centuries. It was damaged by a gale in 1847 (and is now only a shell), so a new church, St Thomas the Apostle, was built in the same churchyard.
John Wesley laid the foundation stone of the unusual octagonal chapel off Northgate, the oldest still in continued use and it was completed in 1764. He recommended the shape to avoid conflict with the established Church. Local people went to the Parish Church as usual and also attended Methodist preaching. The chapel also provided teaching in reading and writing for the poor.