From a small hamlet to a destination town - Hebden Bridge in full focus

Hebden Bridge '˜A Milltown Reborn' - Birchcliffe Centre, Hebden Bridge, April 21, 11am.

Sunday, 15th April 2018, 11:00 am
29 July 2014.......  The home of Charlotte Deighton at 13 Zion Terrace on
Osborne Street, Hebden Bridge. 
View from the front room overlooking the town. TJ100457j Picture by Tony Johnson
29 July 2014....... The home of Charlotte Deighton at 13 Zion Terrace on Osborne Street, Hebden Bridge. View from the front room overlooking the town. TJ100457j Picture by Tony Johnson

‘Pathways’, Calderdale’s two-man film production company is about to release its latest film “Hebden Bridge - A Milltown Reborn.”

Cameraman and director Peter Thornton from Northowram and presenter Ray Riches from Heptonstall have worked together for over a decade making films which celebrate the rugged beauty and historical legacies of the Pennine Valleys and beyond.

The film shows the town’s growth from a small hamlet settled around a river crossing, into a bustling mill town at the heart of the fustian clothing trade, earning it the nickname “Trouser Town.”

A post war decline saw the demolition of many mills and buildings and a serious decline in population but, as the film shows, the conservation movement changed all that.

David Fletcher tells how Bridge Mill was saved and with its water wheel and Archimedes Screw became energy self- sufficient.

The Birchcliffe Chapel, on the verge of being demolished, was transformed into a conference centre and similarly Nutclough Mill has become the home of Calrec Audios Ltd, makers of broadcasting equipment. Cheap housing and the area’s natural beauty attracted young people from surrounding cities in the so-called ‘hippy invasion’.

Chris Ratcliffe describes how residents battled the council who wanted to pull down the unique ‘double decker’ houses, leaving them for development. As the town retained it’s uniqueness, artists of all kinds flocked to the area adding an alternative edge.

Trades Club, Hebden Bridge

Now there are festivals on many weekends, with the whole town becoming a stage for the celebrated Summer Arts Festival and the incredible Hand Made Parade.

There is also the Brass Band Competition, a Vintage Car Weekend, a Piano Festival,the Duck Race and, a little more quirky, a lung-bursting bike trial up the Buttress.

There are several community-owned facilities – the new Town Hall is the hub of a wide range of activities and the Picture House, which the filmmakers are given a tour round by its manager Rebekah Fozard.

They visit the Little Theatre with Dorothy Sutcliffe and go next door to the Trades Club, voted one of the best music venues in the North.

The film looks at the conservation work on the Victorian Railway Station, lovingly looked after by a Friends of group and it follows walkers along the canal tow path making their way to the scores of lovely walks in the hills around.

The restored marina has a visitor centre where many seek advice.

The film takes viewers on a heritage trail around the town, starting with the recently pedestrianised George Square and Bridge Gate, over the medieval Bridge from which the town is named and onto Market Street which recently gained the town a Best High Street award.

There are cafes and restaurants a plenty and independent shops which have bounced back after recent floods.

The film is enhanced with drone footage and old photos from the Pennine Horizons Digital Archive Collection and others bring it to life.

’So when people say ‘That was so Hebden Bridge’ which parts of the town’s complex story can they be referring to?’

The film is launched on April 21 at the Birchcliffe Centre in Hebden Bridge with a free viewing for the general public at 11am.

DVD copies will be available from local outlets and the website

Trades Club, Hebden Bridge