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Hebden 500


Monday, 14 June 2010

Buns, bangs and bands for birthday bash

Get your glad rags on for the birthday party of the half-millennium.

On June 19, the mid-point in a year of celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of the packhorse bridge, the streets of Hebden will be ringing to the sounds of mediaeval music, horse’s hooves and some jolly loud bangs.

The Bridge Birthday Bash starts from 1.30pm — and who knows when it’ll end.

500 years of creativity

It all begins with madcap mediaeval capers as Will Tease the Jester, French dance master Gaston du Boufferie and a dramatic, dancing troupe of local children perform in St George’s Square, before leading onlookers to the bridge.

Then, mayor Robin Dixon and local notables will walk with a real packhorse over the packhorse bridge to officially launch the party.

“There’ll be mediaeval music, dance and merriment and a chance to swot up on bridge facts and fiction with snippets to fascinate even the unfascinatable,” says Robin.

Instead of a birthday cake, there’ll be 500 birthday buns, each carrying a flag with words from Hebden Bridge children that describe the way they see their town. The Hebden Bridge Junior Band will have the honour of playing Happy Birthday as the candles are blown out.

People — and animals — of a nervous disposition are being warned to expect a two-minute aural avalanche when the mascletà begins at 2.25pm. Like fireworks without the fire, the mascletà is a soundscape of bangs and cracks.

To add to the festival atmosphere, the Handmade Parade Samba Brigade will be performing their dynamic, danceable drum repertoire. And there’s even 16th century Thai dancing, courtesy of Todmorden Thai restaurant Hanuman.

The bridge

“This is a chance for everyone who loves Hebden Bridge to come and join in the party. There’ll be free birthday buns for 500 people, some weird and wonderful entertainment and a few surprises,” says Robin. “We’d love to see people turn up in mediaeval dress, but whether it’s party dresses or walking boots, absolutely everyone is welcome to the birthday bash.”

Just round the corner at Salem Fields, a special cricket game will be going on too. Every year, Hebden Bridge Cricket Club plays the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in memory of Josh Phillips, a former player who was killed while cycling through Manchester. Josh played for Hebden Bridge and worked at MOSI. This year, there’ll be a HB500 link — each side will bat for an innings of 250 balls, so that 500 balls are bowled in total.

The celebrations don’t end here either, HB500 events still to come include the Hebden Bridge Handmade Parade from 2pm on June 26; lots of bridge and local history related events in the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival from June 26 to July 11; the Hepton Singers’ summer festival concert on July 3; a re-enactment of the Battle of Heptonstall on July 10 and 11; the folk roots festival on July 17, plus a poetry slam, the Hebden Howl town criers’ competition and more.

There's a full listing of HB500 events at www.hebden500.co.uk

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