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Living in Hebden Bridge

From Helen Collier

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Hello. I have come across your forum whilst researching Hebden Bridge and wondered if any residents could offer me advice on the town? I have been a regular visitor to HB for more than 10 years but have never spent longer than a couple of days. My mother is planning a move to Todmorden and I am considering a move to HB. I have two young (Pre-school) children and a very reluctant (about such a move) husband- he is concerned about Hebden's reputation as a centre for drink, drug abuse and suicide. I, on the other hand, see it as an interesting, beautiful and family-friendly place. Can anyone offer any honest insights into the good and bad points of living in HB? Many thanks and apologies if you feel your forum has been invaded!

From Paul Clarke

Monday, 9 May 2011

The simple answer is you should move here.

Don't be put off by the media nonsense generated by one of the most bogus, misleading and inept 'documentaries' ever made. This is not some drug and drink hell.

Sure, it has the same sort of problems most towns of this size have - no more and no less.

I lived in a big city for 20 years and this place is heaven on earth in comparison. In fact it is an ideal place to bring up young children.

I suggest you bring your husband to something like the Duck Race or the Handmade Parade and see this odd old fashioned thing called community in action.

Ignore 'documentary' makers who should hang their heads in shame and see for yourself.

Apart from the odd pang for city life I have never regretted settling here.

From Sutti H

Monday, 9 May 2011

Hi Helen,
I would agree with Paul in parts. I don't think you and your family would have any problem living in Hebden Bridge. I think you could settle in and belong in quite a short time.

This is where I disagree with paul. If you were born in Hebden or possibly moved here in the 60's or possibly 70's then you will not fit in and really don't belong in Hebden anymore.

Most people who have moved here do not understand what I mean, and I could talk until I'm blue in the face about this subject and they still wouldn't understand. They talk about good community in Hebden, they wouldn't know what good community was if it hit them in the face.
There is a community between certain groups of people, depending which group you fall into.

Again I would say it was a good place to move to, but there is also many good places in Yorkshire, places with their own good and bad points.

From Ian M

Monday, 9 May 2011

Or you could could save yourself £100,000. Move two miles further up the valley into the hills above Eastwood. Beautiful scenery, no tourists and plenty of parking

From Emma S

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Helen, I reckon Hebden Bridge is one of the very best places to raise a family. It is very family friendly with quite a bit going on for younger children, and it is generally a safe and friendly place. Plus lovely countryside all around and easy access to the benefits of the city.

I'm saddened to hear that your chap has got the impression that it has a particular problem with drugs/ alcohol/ suicide. There has been much debate in this forum regarding the negative publicity that has come Hebden's way since the film 'Shed Your Tears and Walk Away' came out, and accompanying inaccurate news reporting! Truth is, Hebden has no more of a problem than anywhere else, and the statistics back this up.

I moved from the city to bring my children up here when I became a mum - twenty plus years ago - and I have not regretted it. It's been a great place for them to grow up.

From Jan Scott Nelson

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Hi Helen - I'm with Emma - I moved to Hebden in the late 70s, six months pregnant with my first child. Suffice it to say that my own offspring have stated a desire to bring their own childen up in or near Hebden Bridge.

And it's true, you could certainly save yourself a buck by living nearby instead, some great places to choose from.

From Andy M

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

HB is a good place to live whether you lived here in the 70s, 80s, 90s or whatever! It is currently a nesting place for families- but nothing wrong with that - and it's up to you where you find your community links. You have the potential in this town to have a wide range of friends from many walks of life.

From Joel B

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

For once I feel I have to agree with Sutti on this one !!

I am from Hebden bridge, I was born and bred here yet feel a stranger in my "own town". I cannot afford to buy a house in Hebden, neither can most of my friends or family. Most have moved to Todmorden, Sowerby Bridge or Mytholmroyd like myself.

If I go into Hebden for a sandwich, a beer, or simply to the bookies I don't recognise many people apart from people I grew up with. In the pubs I don't recognise many barmen/landlords, or the many of the drinkers for that matter !!

Of course its good for the towns econonmy having a tourist trade, just a shame that so many people who grew up here don't have the chance to live here anymore !!

I can remember being young and probably being shocked if I heard a southern accent in the town, think its now more the "locals" that are shocked when they here a Yorkshire accent !!

On the other comment regarding the recent films, most local people knew people in those films, people who were close to them, either friends or families, all of whom I'm sure felt the documentaries portrayed real life as it was for some people. No lies, no nonsense but real life and real accounts. But again, this happens in every town in the country, not just Hebden Bridge.

PS, if you're still thinking of moving here, there is an old factory site in nearby Mytholm that is dying for a Tescos to be built on it, make sure you join the petition !!

From Lizzie D

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Yippee, Glad to see that more off cumdens are coming to our quirky little town!

If you really do want to live here, could you also try working locally and earning a local wage, not commuting or being 'home based' (under the guise of working for some huge company)?

My children grew up here too but like Joel B they cant afford to live in Hebden. This is because the yuppies and retired hippies settlement of the 70s pushed house prices beyond the level that local workers could afford. Where is the community spirit when families are fractured and scattered? When young families lose the practical and moral support that we had from our mums, grandmas, aunts etc when our youngsters were growing up. Who can give them guidance when they are forced to live miles away from their families? They dont have the 'ib dib dab' choice of shall I or shan't I move to Hebden that you have.

As for the documentary you refer to, yes it was a factual report, not an air-brushed edit of a funky town as many would have preferred it to be. So yes, Hebden does have a problem with some of its disaffected youth. Many have had no moral guidance from previous generations like we had, simply because whole communities were broken. Those kids weren't actors, they were local kids with 5 & 6 generations of Hebdenites before them. They came from good local parents with firm rules and boundaries. Unfortunately, many of our kids were also offered weed by the offspring of those 70s laid back settlers, many who thought it 'cool' to grow pot in the tiny gardens of their sweet little underdwellings, and yes in some cases that led to situations and addicitons as portrayed in the film. We can't gloss over such things, but believe me these attitudes and laid back approaches are what many people in Hebden still adopt today. What's seen by many as a great but funky/ twee/ chilled/ wierd/ wonderful town, is a little bit harder to live with in reality.

Hebden is a great place to live if you can afford the fantastic range of vegetarian/ organic produce and funky non leather shoes for your kids at £50 a pair (and on the proviso that you really dont want a Tescos either). But, if you are a retired cotton weaver with no idea of what a personal pension is, and having to pay tourist rates for your food and a pint of local ale, or you are a young mum working in the local Spar until 11 at night on the minimum wage, to feed her family, then its a different tale.
Aye lass you will be made reight welcome here. Just tha' try an muck in wi 'new locals' and tha'll fit in great.

Watch this space for a predictable response from t'other off-cumdens tho!

From Andy M

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Offcumden.....what a basically unpleasant term it is.. parochial.. suspicious.... racist even in an odd sort of way.

And how long does it take to become 'local'? 10, 20 50 years, 200? How about the influx of people to the town when the cotton trade took off? Were they all offcumdens?

There's nothing intrinsically admirable about staying in the same place for a long time but don't care if you've been here 5 minutes or 500 years - we're all townsfolk.

From Em F

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

What Andy said. HB is alive; vibrant; somehow encompasses both twee and gritty (as these comments reflect).

There are many facets to it and many different strands of 'community' to get involved in depending on your interests and outlooks.

It's a fantastic place. I feel very lucky to have landed here. I'm not rich, can't afford to buy a house here, but have found other ways to be here. The place has changed hugely in the 11 years I've been here and will probably change more... but I think the beautiful landscape and rich mix of people here will mean I'll always love it.

From Joel B

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Lizzie D thanks for your positive imput! Its nice to see/hear somone else "local" talking sense!

Andy M, sorry but I know that myself, my family, friends etc do regard people as outsiders that have recently moved here. Not in any vicous/racist or parochial way. (I had to look parochial up on google because I had no idea what it meant. Something to do with a Parish?)

Yes we are all townsfolk as you put it, and we all have to live together in what is actually a fantastic little town.

As Lizzie says its more difficult sometimes for people who have always lived here but thats never going to change. I can remember recently standing on a busy platform waiting for a 7am (ish) train from Hebden to Leeds and not knowing a single person on the platform.

Its just a shame that more "Locals" (I'm not being parochial there by the way) don't use this forum. Just to get more views across, after all that is what is for.

Its never going to change, Hebden is a magnet for people with money, city based, looking to live in a beautiful area so can't blame them really. Maybe we should all agree to disagree.......!

From Jenny B

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

So Andy thinks the locals are 'Racist' in an odd sort of way!!!!!!!!!
Off-cumdem an oft used phrase, is Yorkshire dialect for new settlers to an area. An off cumdem could be someone born in Mytholmroyd who moves into Hebden Bridge. The hill top village communities would even for example, label a Pecket -weller as an off-cumdem were they to settle in Old Town. In the same way as they would ask is s/he church or chapel? to determine an even tighter local connection.

I can see quite clearly that whilst there is a serious element to Lizzie's comments, many of the other comments are actually made rather tongue in cheek.

But maybe that is just my ability to understand the local sense of humour?

And actually Andy, I do think that there is something "intrinsically admirable" about putting down roots and settling in one place. It allows communities to support each other in a way that is not found in towns and cities where the populations are more transient. Neighbourhoods are built on solid foundations.

Indeed anyone applying for social housing in the area is allowed to specify that they want to be housed in certain areas (Hebden Bridge is one), only, if they can show a local connection, such as family live here or they work in the area.

Old locals or new locals debates will always be there. They are not peculiar to Hebden Bridge. I don't know how long you need to live here to be an old local, but I do know that those cotton workers will have possibly earned their badge of honour by now. However, I don't think I have yet, as I don't have a grandma in the churchyard as they say! And there is nowt wrong with calling folk off cumdems, I much prefer it to townsfolk really.

From H Gregg

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The most useful information I can give you is that Hebden Bridge has the best ironmongers in this sector of our galaxy. I can't speak for other sectors or for other galaxies, not having visited them. I suspect that they have none better.

And my best advice, if you do move, is dress appropriately.


From Lizzie D

Thursday, 12 May 2011

I am quite shocked that Andy should find the term off cumdem remotely racist. I wonder are his comments meant to shock, belittle or humilate me for expressing my Yorkshireness?

Round here, and indeed in any Northern Town/ Village, you will find Andy that we say it how it is. We don't wrap our comments up in unnecessary prose to try and prove to the natives that we are educated. My use of dialect is how I speak, albeit as jenny says a bit tongue in cheek.

Personally I would find your 'welcoming comments' more off putting than mine if I were moving here as an off cumden. I might even be put off by thinking Hebden Bridge were full of those intellectuals!

From Em F

Thursday, 12 May 2011

I think 'offcumden' is fine if it's used in the sense of someone being originally from out of town - as a description. It's not so fine when it's used in an insulting way, as though there's something wrong with having chosen to come to this fantastic town. I could understand people being upset if loads of houses were being bought up as second homes or holiday cottages but if people are settling here, their kids are in the local schools, they shop locally and have some involvement in local events or community... surely that's a good thing? The ebb and flow of people moving in and moving away brings fresh life and rich diversity to the town (and probably helps the local economy). It's true that where no-one stays more than 5 minutes there's no chance for community, but here in HB (because it's so lovely!) most people do stay longer than 5 minutes, long enough to become part of one of the multi-faceted strands of community that we have here.

Oh and I did get the tongue-in-cheek bit, even though I'm an offcumden ;)

From Zila Brown

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Local v offcumden-meanings? Andy M, IMHO you can never be local if you were not born in an area no matter how long you live there, its a fact of life. As someone who is Yorkshire but not born in the town I feel my localness belongs to the area where I was born even now, inspite of living here in Hebden for most of my life, ie, I do not define myself as a local, it's something that money can't buy.

Also I wish people like you wouldn't produce the racist card every time they get a bit offended. I think it's a cheap way to try to shut people up and ridiculous when used in this context.

Joel, I too feel sad that the people I grew with seem few and far between in the town, we value each other so much more now and speak to each other (where we might not have done) now we are a minority. My children can't afford a house here either but say they are not sure that they want to live here now it is changing so much, and not for the better in their opinion.

And yes Lizzie D, I think there are 2 main classes of people in the town as we know, the locals doing the menial low paid work (and not because of lack of education either) servicing the offcumdens who commute from the town each day to higher paid jobs. At one time we were all the same kind of folk with similar lives and hopes, not now.

From Andy M

Thursday, 12 May 2011

I didn't say that locals were racist but the word offcumdum, if used pejoratively, is potentially.... xenophobic shall we say rather than racist?!

I have many local and non-local friends and consider myself part of the local community, but have, (very rarely happily), been treated dismissively for not having been born here.

From Paul D

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Wherever you live you find people who define themselves against another group, the us and them syndrome. It's no different here, in fact people here are more open and tolerant than the residents of many cities.

I think Joel and Sutti have a point though in that the negative effects of inward migration barely register with those people for whom this is not their place of birth. In the 1970s inward migration saved the town from stagnation and many arrivals moved into empty or smei derelict houses in areas such as Queens Terrace, River Street and Nutclough. Now inward migration is different, it's actually displacing local people, not replacing those who've left.

In areas such as Cumbria and Cornwall the negative effects of tourism and inward migration are not off menu, they specifically try to support young families like those locally being forced up and down the valley by house prices increased by a lack of supply and excessive demand. Our elected representatives seem oblivious to this.

From Anthony Rae

Friday, 13 May 2011

So, Helen, now you know. You asked what I'm sure you thought was a perfectly innocent question and before you know it that's apparently almost started a race war. Or is it a class war? Or both! And you've just gone and upset so many people, and now they're all arguing.

I hope you're satisfied. You're obviously a troublemaker; and of course you'd be an offcumden as well. So you can't come and live here. And that's final.

From Collin C

Friday, 13 May 2011

Without taking sides I think that this thread has given Helen all the information and insight she could possibly have into our 'community'.

Lovely little tableau in town yesterday. A couple of RP speaking, well dressed women discussed the importance of finding 'just the right sort of childcare' for their off-spring whilst a drunk man with a very obvious head injury was slumped on the floor trying to roll a cigarette, not five feet away.

Neither seemed threatened by the other, neither seemed to even notice.

From Rev Tony Buglass

Friday, 13 May 2011

"I hope you're satisfied. You're obviously a troublemaker; and of course you'd be an offcumden as well."

But - going on the above discussion, surely that means she'd fit in perfectly?

From Lizzie D

Friday, 13 May 2011

I like to think its more of a debate than arguing. But, there is most definitely nothing racist, belittling or xenophobic about the term off-cumdem and for someone to insinuate there is, in my view is petty, and out of place in such a forum.

I have only just found this forum and were I made of softer stuff, Andy and his dictionary might intimidate me which, I believe was his intention.

Should Helen make the move, I do agree that she would be made welcome by the majority, and even by those of us that have our opinions on off-cumdems and the 'shoving up of property prices'. We are far too polite and would certainly not hold her being an off cumdem against her if she moves here. Look at all the comments from those who have moved here. Do they feel unwelcome?

There is only Andy who says he has been openly criticised for not being a 'local local' and IMHO, that could be more to do with his insistence on using 3 words when 1 would do perfectly well. Dunt 'alf mark you out as not local!

From Andy M

Friday, 13 May 2011

Now I'm being discriminated against for using the English language ;-)

Like I said it's not the word itself; it's how it's used.

From Rev Tony Buglass

Saturday, 14 May 2011

"Now I'm being discriminated against for using the English language ;-)"

You think you've got problems. I'm a Geordie missionary to Yorkshire!

Incidentally, the Geordie language has no word like "offcumden" - apart from "southerner" that is... ;)

From H Gregg

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Come on Helen - join in!

If you're feeling a bit dubious about the move after all of the above, I know a nice little property on Betelgeuse 5 which is going for a snip.

Take no notice of Anthony (Or should I say Phil?) he has three arms, two heads and sandals - he is winding you up.

P.S. This thread is SO Hebden Bridge!

From Joseph S

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Lots of things for me.

1. Yes move here- its a lovely place. "Close your eyes" is a film about wholesale alcohol and substance abuse and its impact on local families and communities. Its really sad, but its not about Hebden Bridge. Its set in Hebden- but its not about the town really, its just here because that's where the film-maker grew up.

2. Its really family friendly. Come to the park on a sunny afternoon and see.

3. I could not afford to buy a house here now. Mind you that's true for most of the country. That problems not a Hebden problem- its a national one.

4. The "offcumden" debate will run and run. The negative way in which it is often used makes it a mild form of bigotry imho. People rarely say "what a positive impact these offcumdens have had on our local community, spending their money with our businesses, and contributing to our community"

I'd be preferred to be seen as an individual - who works, shops and volunteers locally, and with whom you might be happy to have a pint with than being defined by where I was born. Blaming incoming sectors of the community for our societies problems sounds awfully similar to the argument the BNP is making 12 miles away. Maybe if we stopped using the word "offcumden" and used the work immigrant instead that would be better?

From Helen Collier

Monday, 16 May 2011

Thank you all so much for taking the time to respond- you have given me exactly what I asked for: a real insight into your town.

I understand that it must feel irritating to have outsiders come in and push up house prices/ squeeze out people who have lived in a place all their lives. I also recognise that people who come and contribute to the local community are more appealing. I am a teacher and would hope to work as locally as possible.

I still hope to persuade my partner but may need to change my name after causing such a rankle on your forum.

Thanks again.


From Em F

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

I am glad you came back onto the thread, Helen! That you weren't scared off or put off by the debate and that you're wise enough to see that apparently opposing viewpoints can all be valid.

I do think a few untrue things have been said, especially this: "there are 2 main classes of people in the town... the locals doing the menial low paid work... servicing the offcumdens who commute from the town each day to higher paid jobs."

I'm an 'offcumden' (I've been here a short 11 years) and I and a lot of my offcumden friends work or have worked in 'menial' jobs in and around town - cleaning, childminding, shopwork, barwork, cooking, waitressing, doing market stalls and so on. Most of us don't commute, don't have high paid jobs and can't afford to buy houses (here in HB or, as someone else pointed out, anywhere in the UK).

I think it's far too simplistic to say there are lowpaid 'locals' and lording-it-up 'offcumdens'... There are definitely lowpaid incomers and I bet there are a few wealthy longterm locals. Why any group should be jealous of or antagonistic towards any other I don't understand. We're all part of the mix that makes Hebden Bridge unique...

...and don't worry Helen, you will be accepted and won't need to change your name ;)


From Jenny B

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Antagonistic - Showing or feeling active opposition or hostility toward someone or something.

Jealousy - Jealousy is a secondary emotion and typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, particularly in reference to a human connection. Jealousy often consists of a combination of presenting emotions such as anger, sadness, resentment and disgust. It is not to be confused with envy.

I can't really see much evidence of such emotion in this debate. Wistfullness for times gone by maybe, but more of a resigned acknowledgement and acceptance of change (and of progress).

Helen can clearly see that a commitment to the community in which she lives is what makes friends.They will not be jealous of her ability to buy a house here.

Most of us can see that there is a wider political cause for low cost local housing, and as for the breaking down of the extended families support structures that we were lucky to have. We simply had hoped to pass that on to our own children.

Jealousy No.

From Sutti H

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

What an interesting thread. It looks very much like the new residents of Hebden Bridge seem to know what the born and bred residents think about them. Most of the time it is a strange view.

Offcumden is a term usually used between Hebdenites, and as far as becoming a local, I don't think it is possible anymore.

A local was a person, with parents, grandparents and other family members within spitting distance, they could visit many other family members in the local grave yard. This has gone and will probably never return.

I consider myself very lucky to have lived in Hebden all my life with most of my family around me, this is changing at a fast pace now.
There are no real jobs in Hebden and the house prices are still a bit high.
A strange kind of well educated person has moved in and taken over. If you like arts or strange shops and a free spirit then all is well.

I don't mind most of the change until I'm forced into a world I don't recognise. Bringing children up without limits, dressing little boys in dresses because the child needs choice, sorry I don't understand.
Helping the enviroment, recycling, renewable energy, fighting for the less well off person I'm all in favour of.

So before people start throwing the racist, sexist etc label about please try and understand we did like the place before you decided to pass through the little town called Hebden and what ever colour, sex, class you are we can all live together.

From Em F

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Yes, I didn't mean that last comment negatively - I wanted to get away from the polarising into 'haves' and 'have-nots' that had been mentioned a couple of times in the debate and say that in some ways every type of person is represented here and we're all 'lucky' to live in this lovely and unique town - whether that's lucky enough to own a house, or lucky to have found work locally, or lucky to have been born here and have a history and roots here.

There should be no need for animosity between people based on their different backgrounds or current circumstances as there are pros and cons of being a true local, pros and cons of commuting to an out-of-town job, pros and cons of being a low-paid rent-payer (I think that's a better option than having to spend 3 hours a day travelling and working in a city and struggling to pay a mortgage - but I accept that's just my personal opinion). I like to think I live in a tolerant place where everyone can find a niche and be respected and accepted... that's why, along with the gorgeous landscape, I'm here.

From Lizzie D

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Yes Sutti, that sums it up nicely for me too.

My concerns were that the inward migration of townies, up-country, off-cumdems - call them what you will, were responsible for bringing a laisse fare attitude of parenting that verges on total lack of parental care/control. This led to our own good honest family values being seen as stuffy, old fashioned, strict, and restrictive causing our children to rebel. That attitude, in my opinion led to an influx of people who found it acceptable to also use recreational drugs as part of their 'laid back lifestyle'. That was not good for our town, and despite all the arguments that this happens everywhere, when you have seen it happen to your town it is the pits.

There is now as Sutti says, an element of being too politically correct for your own good. Yes boys in dresses, to discover their inner gender, kids allowed to walk around the town naked (yes they do) probably in their parents view 'just expressing themselves' whilst totally ignoring the fact that pretty little towns can have paedophiles too. I regularly see parents holding their todlders over the gutter like dogs to defecate or letting them touch delicate objects or food stuffs in the shops. Ask any shop assistant about this rude laid-back parental behaviour and they will tell you the typical parental type that allows it. Bohemiam we may be but not all settlements have bought benefits to the town.

From Michelle Jones

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I have for a long time now, wanted to air my views on the discussion forum, but have not felt confident enough to do so until now. I was frightened of being ridiculed for my grammar or spelling mistakes.

I work in a small shop in Hebden and if myself or other staff make a spelling mistake on a sign we are belittled and laughed at (not by the locals). I have even been asked by customers not to call them 'love'.

I am a local here and have seen so many changes over the years, some for the best and some for the worst.

I have brought five children up in this town. Three of them have done really well here, one a managing director of a local business, one a university graduate now currently working for Lifeline and the third who works for a law firm in Halifax, sadly we lost two sons to drugs. No they were not from a one parent family. All my children were brought up in exactly the same way with lots of love, rules and good moral guidance.

It has taken me three years to write/comment on this discussion forum and it's all thanks to Lizzie.

Lizzie everything you have said in this thread is true. You have said it how it is and how it was.

Thank you

From Em F

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Michelle's story is touching for its simple, straightforward honesty. I'm glad she had the courage to tell it.

I did think, after reading it, that the description could probably be of almost any smallish town or community: changes over time, sometimes resisted and sometimes embraced; an irresistable harking back to 'how it used to be' (this seems to happen in every community in the world!); occasional misunderstandings and unnecessary piss-taking; some kids coming good and others going bad, regardless of how they were parented; an increase in recreational drug use; more child-oriented parenting.

Reading Lizzie's post I smiled to think of boy-children dressing up in skirts, kids playing naked and toddlers being held over a drain when 'caught short' without a nappy - personally, I don't think those are bad things. That doesn't mean kids should be allowed to run completely wild to the detriment of other members of the community, shop-owners etc... and to be honest, I haven't seen much of that going on (nor much nakedness, male skirt-wearing or pooing/peeing in the street... but I'm not saying it doesn't happen).

I wonder if Sutti, Lizzie and Michelle are talking more about something that happened in the past, perhaps a particular tribe of wild kids who ran riot for a while, rather than an ongoing situation? I don't know if that's the case, it's just a wonder.

I don't have kids myself but my friends kids all seem to be lovely small people. They probably 'get away with' more than we used to, but they're not violent or disgusting. I think Helen would be safe to bring her kids here...

From Lizzie D

Thursday, 19 May 2011

I apologise in advance if this sounds harsh Em F but you have totally adapted my comments to meet your idealistic and utopian view of Hebden Bridge.

I have not in any way referred to children as horrible and disgusting, and would like to point out that my view is not based on past experience of previous families that were 'wild' but is absolute fact.

You try to present a picture of children playing naked in their gardens, dressing up in parents or other clothes and being held over a drain to pee when caught short.

I am referring to dirty grimy children walking aorund the town without clothes on with equally dirty but clothed parents. Children being allowed to squat to shit in the gutter (I have held mine over grids to pee and am sure many others have). The tendency to be almost oppositionally defiant in terms of non-conformity of gender stereotypes, by allowing little boys to wear girls clothes even for school. As Sutti says, this is the choice of the parents not the child and is in my view used to illustrate their 'relaxed' parenting skills rather than to allow freedom of expression.

Ask the staff in Waites how many times they have to ask parents to not let children touch the goods. My kids knew not to do that, they knew that other people had to buy them and eat them.

Speak to shop owners who have had to write off broken and damaged stock because parents can't be bothered to tell children not to touch.

We live in a town where a few hundred people took pleasure from holding a not the royal wedding event - held on not the royal wedding day and then tried to present it as the whole town's rebellion against conformity. See the thread in this forum to see how those who disagreed were shouted down.

I am sure your friends' kids might be well behaved and are likely to be in the majority but please don't make out that everyone conforms to social rules of behaviour.

From Em F

Thursday, 19 May 2011

I accept that some kids and some parents can be badly behaved. Perhaps the problem is worse than I have noticed.

However, I do think my viewpoint is valid and that it's important Helen and people like her get to hear from people like myself who experience and represent Hebden and its inhabitants in a more positive light. I've lived here for 11 years, so while my experience is not that of a born-and-bred local, it is based on the day-to-day reality of living here.

I don't like badly behaved adults or kids; I agree with Lizzie that touching food or breaking things in shops is bad behaviour; forcing a boy to wear a skirt would also be bad behaviour, as opposed to letting a boy wear a skirt if he wanted to, which I see no problem with.

What I'm trying to say, perhaps, is that a lot of the things Lizzie and others complain about are things I dislike too, but I don't come across them very often which makes me think they are not totally representative of how we live here. If the way Lizzie describes Hebden was all there was to it, I wouldn't love the town like I do.

I guess both positive and negative things and people exist here, just like everywhere. How each individual experiences the balance of positive versus negative is a personal thing, based on specific experiences as well as general world view.

So Helen will just have to come live here and see for herself how she experiences it... (then get back on the forum and let us know!)

From Michelle Foster

Thursday, 19 May 2011

I'm not interested in fueling the debate. Just a couple of observations.

I have watched the film, 'Shed Your Tears' a number of times, and know many of the people involved. The most heartbreaking thing for me, outside of observing the Jones' family pain, was Michelle's self-deprication - the feeling of not being good-enough or clever enough. I have shared this with her, and would just like to tell her how valid her contribution to this forum is - how her dignity cannot be learned in some university or bestowed upon by middle class parents or money. You are a credit to mothers, women and people of this valley.

My second observation is to those who suggest that the changes and challenges that Hebden Bridge has faced are replicated across other towns and villages. I would question this - Mytholmroyd is still a place where locals feel at home, and Burnley or Bacup or Rochdale are still towns with a shared sense of community that have their roots firmly set in the industrial past.

I work in a sector that is currently being challenged by societal changes - the substance misuse sector. Our problems have been compounded by the breakdown of a shared sense of community. Our solutions can be found in rebuilding those communities from the grass-roots. We should nurture our grass-roots, and people like Michelle Jones should be valued as the lynch-pin of the grass-roots revival.

From H Gregg

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Michelle, Lizzie, Sutti - keep it up! Good to hear your views - this is what Hebweb is all about (although it was started by an 'offcumden')

I've only been here for 24yrs so I may not be entitled to ask this question :-) - but... how long do you have to live here to be local? Is it from birth? Is it if your parents were born here?

I know that I felt 'local' within the first year I moved - mainly because of the amazing welcome from the 'established' locals. Hebden Bridge will suck you in or spit you out - it depends on you. (Sorry if that sounds rude).

M,L & S - encourage others to join in this debate.

From Lizzie D

Friday, 20 May 2011

Like Michelle, I have followed Hebweb for a year or so but been a bit reluctant to join in as it honestly seemed (like a lot of things do to me) to be aimed at the 'new locals'. I felt that the few 'old locals' who did try to contribute, were often shouted down, picked on, and belittled for their views. To me it felt like we were seen as country hillbillies stuck in the past who didnt want change. Most contributors have no idea of what changes we have undertaken over the last 40years. They have been massive. Some good, some not so good. As EmF says, she feels her opinion is valid to present a balanced view of our town. Well, I agree with her, but, I don't think that this forum has always presented a balanced view. This is simply because the views are often restricted by a lack of local historical knowledge. I think everyone should be respected for their views but we shouldn't and in my view cannot allow people to ponficate about things they want people to believe.

Often, I can't say what I mean wthout feeling that my linguistic skills are not 'good enough'. The tendency of some contributors to use 'big words' or 3 instead of 1, is often off-putting and again I feel, aimed deliberately at putting those with limited confidence in their language at a disadvantage. I am wary of mis-spellings in case I get pulled up for it like they did with the coop notices. It seems like its great fun to take the p**s out of the locals!

As Michelle says, she is openly belittled for wrong spellings on notices at her work place. Who are these people who think they know best, who don't have consideration or respect for other people and the social values of small towns? They steamroller in, want to change everything, because their way is 'the best way' and then wonder why the locals move out of their way and 'give in'. You get the feeling that you are inferior for wanting a decent supermarket, even that you are wrong to eat meat. That you are an 'oink' because you aren't as well travelled as some.

Thats how I feel, and I am sorry H, but I do think you need to have been at least born here to develop that sense of localness, but think that you can have a sense of belonging as soon as you settle down. Hebden is a lovely place and I would hate the present divisions between locals and newbys to expand. Soon we locals will have lost our identity because our skills, knowledge and values are being undermined, our children are pushed out to the peripheries of Mytholmroyd and Todmorden, by rising house prices, pushed up above affordable by those 'off-cumdems' who commute for higher wages.

And finally - Michelle, I am so glad that I gave you the courage to speak up. You know your values havent changed at all. But they are constantly challenged and being underminded by the 'wrong' attitudes and principles that are trying to dominate in this little town. Your strength and dignity are borne of true Yorkshire grit and sadly thats what 'they' don't understand!!!

From Kay C

Friday, 20 May 2011

Maybe the idea of an 'offcumden' is a joke at the expense of the more patronising newcomer, who think the locals are really so insular as to judge you solely on where your parents are born. As this thread shows it is your behaviour, your manners and your contribution that people actually think are important.

From Rev Tony Buglass

Friday, 20 May 2011

It's interesting reading this thread, and trying to pick up the different reactions and attitudes expressed in it. I suspect it all comes down to acceptance: if you accept Hebden Bridge, in general you'll be accepted by Hebden Bridge. If you accept only part of it, you might be accepted by that part, and possibly not accepted by others. If you accept people as they are, in general they'll accept you.

Or something like that. It's certainly an interesting place to live!

From Billy Painter

Friday, 20 May 2011

I think H has summed it up in his last post to be honest...

"Hebden Bridge will suck you in or spit you out - it depends on you"

It's a truly magical place to live, and I would urge anyone contemplating on moving to Hebden Bridge to give it a try. I have grown up in Hebden Bridge and thoroughly enjoyed it, there's something for everyone and it's an adventure worth going on.

I can certainly think of worse places to live...

From Jenny B

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Lizzie, how timely is your contribution? This weeks HB times reports that someone or other us has dubbed us as Yorkshire's Funkiest Little Town - with us being made up of a range of people from"academics to die hard hippies". Not falling into either of those categories, it does make me wonder who these people think actually live here! I don't know if you do Lizzie, but you get your point across just as well as some of those who would love to be labelled a member of the academic community. I love your ability to present things exactly as they are. I think you must be one of life's people watchers to observe our community so well. I think you are right in that the key issue is accepting 'us' for who we are and what we value rather than wanting to nudge away at us until we conform to their idealistic view of northern towners.

Some people come here and give, some people come here and take, some want to suck the life blood out of the town and change it to something its not. I love that our canals have opened but not that those who live on them dump their waste at the side of the road. Interesting too, how the 'free spirited boat dwellers' etch out a little plot of territory for each of them on the canal bank.

Great skate park, but is this at the expense of the flower beds, bowling green and open green spaces? I love our shops to look in but I can't often afford to buy nor need the pretty things they sell. Did new beliefs and ideas make someone decide to vandalise the Easter cross that has stood at Horsehold since I was a child? I don't think the peasants are revolting as yet, but maybe we too want a say in what you are doing to our town?

I have been to various meetings over the years, and felt intimidated by "so and so who is an architect, so and so who is a geologist and one a statistician" all wiling to label themselves to prove their worth and make us think their opinions and their decisions are more valid, but little realising that those of us who have something to offer feel pushed out. Perhaps these views that are so heartfelt can serve to make those who choose to settle here, understand that locals aren't trying to present a negative image but trying to balance the views and for goodness sake stop us being labelled Funky by anyone else!

From H Gregg

Saturday, 21 May 2011

This is getting out of hand and could lead to tears!

Maybe a grading system is needed, so that we all know just who we are. Perhaps you can help. I've made a rough first attempt below, but I'm sure there are characteristics of each grade that you can add.

Local (Grade I): Has lived here all their life / Can trace their ancestry (all of whom were also Grade I locals) back at least seven generations / Has never ventured farther afield than Mytholmroyd

Local (Grade II): Has lived here all their life / Parents of Yorkshire origin but may they have come from Mytholmroyd or even Luddendenfoot / Once went on the bus to Leeds (but didn't like it and could not understand the dialect).

Local (Grade III): Born in Hebden but spent some years away 'down south' and learnt some bad habits / Now reformed and no longer drinks lager.

Local (Grade IV): Born in Hebden and has lived here all of their life but takes holidays abroad / Eats spaghetti (not the tinned sort!) and other foreign foods / Has been known to read the Guardian (but only in the Library - and before it was modernised).

Local (Grade V): Born in Hebden but has parents from Todmorden.

Offcumden (Grade I): Born outside of town (but within a 10 mile radius) / Has lived in Hebden for at least 80% of their life / Works in the Co-op or another 'Local' shop (Note: the shops also need grading) and probably writes customer information notices / Well respected by all grades of 'Locals'

Offcumden (Grade II): Moved here in the 1970's / Has made no significant 'improvements' to their home / Shops locally (but only because their car failed it's MOT) / Unaware that there is any such thing as a 'spelling mitsake' / Has no obvious source of income / Gave their children silly made-up names / Tolerated by the 'Locals'

Offcumden (Grade III): Came to Hebden in the 1980's or later / Has painted their front door a funny colour / Works (if you can call it that) from home, or is an artist/writer poet/graphic designer/journalist / Joins in the with the local community but only in an effort to take over all the public buildings in the town / Writes relentlessly to the Bridge Times about the environment / Viewed (quite rightly) with suspicion by the 'Locals'

Offcumden (Grade IV): Came to Hebden this century / Commutes to Leeds or Manchester / Has transvestite children (not toilet trained) and drives an SUV (whatever that is) / Shops in the twig shops and soap shops / Drinks skinny lattes outside one of those silly cafes that don't even sell black pudding butties / Has a Masters degree in spelling and likes you to know it / Has a funny sounding name / Don't ask the 'Locals' their thoughts about Grade IV's if you value your ears.

Offcumden (Grade V): Any of the above who was born in Lancashire.

From Em F

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Uh-oh - which box to tick?

Boring name (Emma), arrived 2000, knows how to spell most words, once painted a door red, no children (transvestite or otherwise), works as a cleaner and odd-jobs-person (biodegradable cleaning products only).

Please H, where do I fit in?!

(H - thanks for injecting much needed humour; while some of the issues discussed are serious I do think a good chuckle every now and then is a grand thing)

From Ron Taylor

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Last year, round about the time of The Bridge's 500th birthday party, some friends visited Hebden for the first time. They noticed the 'That's so Hebden Bridge' sign at the border with Mytholmroyd and remarked that the place seemed rather self-regarding; actually they used a somewhat less genteel phrase. Sadly I could only agree with their view.

From Captain Offcumden

Saturday, 21 May 2011

That's enough!

We've tried barely concealed sarcasm, which hasn't stopped the whining. ("My children can't afford to buy a house in Hebden Bridge" is just God's way of saying that you're too poor.) How dare they speak so disrespectfully . . . about Us!

But they wouldn't listen, so the time for painfully slow explanation is over. Now it's the hard way . . . or the even harder way. Either we establish a proper master-slave relationship, with the Yorkies just doing our bidding and be grateful for it, or they will have to go!

Offcumdens! 50 years ago we started this project. Our goal of final domination is in sight but we need one last push. This is no time for squeamishness. We have sleeper cells in every street, just waiting for the word. I suggest we meet up at the usual time (midnight) in one of those nice cafes - for coffee and cakes - then fan out in all directions around town . . . and to work! (But not next Thursday, I'll have had my Pilates, and I find it quite tiring). The clearance maps are all prepared but if in doubt, the test is simple: we're the ones talking proper. Just ask them to pronounce 'ciabata'. They can then be 'encouraged' - either to sign for indenture, or to leave.

Rise, Offcumdens, Rise! One night of 'Charivari', of blood and terror, and the town will be ours! We can take all their houses; redistributing some to our London friends, selling the rest will give a welcome boost to the property market.

And then, Helen, you can pay a visit and take your pick, for you will have inspired our little denouement.

'Captain Offcumden'

From Cell 42

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Cell 42 ready Captain - awaiting the signal

From Cell 101

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Cell 101 ready Captain - awaiting the signal

From Chris Day

Sunday, 22 May 2011

'There are only two types of people. Those who believe there are only two types of people and those who don't.'

The problem with this statement is that there are many ways to define which two groups we are talking about. It is all too easy to do this in a sectarian way to emphasise differences rather than cooperatively to build on what people have in common.

Take the distinction between rich and the poor for example. Michael Meacher has asked why the 1,000 richest persons in this country are not making any contribution to paying off Britain's public deficit. He points out that: "Over the last 13 years their collective wealth has ballooned 4-fold from ?99bn in 1997 to ?396bn now." He could also have asked why salaries for top executives are 'out of control' (High Pay Commission report). This money comes from local people everywhere.

In my school the two latest departmental reviews show the majority of teachers providing good or outstanding lessons. This is no small achievement in a challenging inner city school. As a reward teachers have been told that pension contributions are likely to rise by more than 50%, it will be necessary to work to the age of 68 or even longer and that those who choose to retire at 60 will lose further tens of thousands of pounds due to the RPI ? CPI switch.

Millions of people on low-to-middle incomes face years of declining living standards. The coalition claims this is just the result of responsible government, rebalancing the economy following the financial crisis but as Paul Krugman puts it: "people who praised Ireland as a role model shouldn't be giving lectures on responsible government." Iceland was the first country to follow Krugman's advice on debt restructuring and its economy is now out of recession.

In the UK, as Michael Burke explains: "That stagflation is even a possibility after one of the most severe economic contractions on record is itself a damning indictment of policy. Recessions should lead to large excess capacity in the economy allowing a rapid rebound without producing price pressures. Now a combination of government spending cuts, chronically weak investment and excessive monetary creation have created the opposite; flat activity and soaring prices. ??Yet it is in the government's own hands to lower the inflation rate by reversing the rise in VAT. They could also scrap the rules that allow permanent above-inflation price rises for the privatised utilities and rail companies, which are set to lead to price rises of up to 14% later this year."

Sometimes you just have to switch off the tv for a while and think seriously about what is really happening. PCS Union plans escalation of anti-cuts resistance and has voted almost unanimously for a strike ballot for action on the 30th of June. Teachers are voting this week on a proposal for strike action on same the day. Calderdale SOS is meeting at 7,30 pm on Tuesday 24th May in the Trades Club to discuss ways in which local people might be able to support these actions in the likely event that the ballots are successful. All those who want to work together to develop this resistance should go along.

From Lizzie D

Monday, 23 May 2011

Well . . . that killed the debate nicely. Captain Offcumdem predictably reverting to the southern sense of humour in the hope that we 'yorkies' won't understand or be amused (and admit defeat) and then his minions decide to join in with the boarding school dorm hooray henry humour, Oh hahahaha.

Yes Ron, I agree 'So Hebden Bridge'

From Mike W

Monday, 23 May 2011

Of course you should move to HB - just for the experience.... and then move away... and move back.... and move to Tod..... then to London for work.... then back. HB is just where all the bungees that hold folks lives together are anchored.... just don't open a twig shop.

Mike currently living 200 miles away but circling closer to HB again.


From Paul D

Monday, 23 May 2011

If the offcumdens want a revolution they should first decide on a charter, I'd like to offer some suggestions in key areas:

The environment. It's well known that only offcumdens understand the environment, so we should take control of it. Trees are not for cutting down and putting on fires but for looking at or photographing. Outside is one big playground, not a harsh natural environment to be respected by all and anyone not wearing reflective waterproofs is probably a poacher and should be reported. Llamps are not for lamping rabbits, but putting on bikes and riding through the woods at nights. Lambs are bred for our dogs to chase and anyone shooting our dogs should jolly well pay for a decent pet funeral. Bridleways are not (repeat not) for riding animals with bridles on (like horses), but should only be for expensive bikes and lycra clad joggers. All cows emitting methane or not wearing a warm jacket in heavy rain should be relocated to the nearest cow rescue centre. Nothing with bones in should ever be farmed, killed, culled or eaten as us offcumdens are well know for being squeamish and not liking meat much.

Culture. All local cultural events not already appropriated by us should desist with immediate effect. Plot singing can only be considered for resurrection as a cultural activity if it is performed by out of work actors living in Heptonstall. Similarly, mumming on new years eve will be revived only when local people have forgotten all about it, but once resurrected faces will not be blacked up and payment for any chores or the reckless consumption of alcohol will no longer be allowed. Again, said unemployed actors will strive to make what was once a dangerous and liver damaging experience safe for the kids. The duck race will form the central plank of our bid to become the European funkiest town of culture 2015. All arts funding not already restricted to offcumdens will be and we will ban from the cinema anyone who calls hot chocolate cocoa. Culture is ours, it's time we stopped pretending that anyone other than us knew or can know anything about art and culture.

Education. All schools should stop trying to serve the uneducable local oiks and direct all their time and resources to our children. History will be taught without reference to the local area as there is no history here of any sort and even if there was we would have to write ourselves into it and that'd be too difficult so there isn't any. Local dialect should be banned like Welsh was, it's embarrassing and has links to pre Norman civilization that we can't and shouldn't tolerate as it might mean we're not as clever as we think we are. Children speaking with an accent should be made to eat cheese until they're sick, not invited to children's parties and expelled from school. Anyone not considering schools on the basis of the proportion of local children who might be there should receive counseling. Teachers should be caned if they don't speak very loudly and in clipped English. School trips should include a journey around local shops correcting spelling errors in any signage and any child with a grandparent living locally should be expected to bring them into school for the other children to laugh at.

Housing. Local people should be further invited to leave the area through the provision of grants and the provision of free three bedroom houses in Mytholmroyd. Those refusing incentives should have a cross painted on their door and not be allowed to leave their rubbish out or have milk delivered (except by Ocado). Offcumdens should only sell their houses to other offcumdens and social housing should be resisted at all costs. Anyone living in rural areas without erecting huge halogen lights that burn the retinas of anyone walking should be fined. In town itself, anyone with lots of flower pots, chimney pots, old carts, rotting wellies or other such clutter outside their house should get a discount on their rates.

Transport. Rail fares to Leeds and Manchester should be reduced by 90%. Local people should not drive their cars between 7 and 10 in the morning and 3 and 7 pm. The coal yard should be relocated to somewhere dirtier and paved over to provide more free parking for commuters. Us offcumdens know all there is to know about transport so we should axe any buses serving local communities we don't live in and preserve the ones that we use once a month as part of a nice walk. Hospital buses prove that you can't trust local people, they just ask for what they need and are selfish, all bus routes should be judged on the basis of how many middle class mums are on them, below 90% and it's the axe. We like bikes unless they're used as a means of transport to and from work, so anyone riding an inexpensive model, or clearly using it to get to or from work, can be legally knocked off and killed. Ditto pedestrians in areas we drive through but don't live in, and any points on an offcumden's license should be removed if they agree to park on pavements or directly outside a school on the hatched bit that says no parking.

The economy. Local businesses should only serve us and tourists, there should be no shops other than these. Shops selling things that people need, but mainly serve people without a degree, should be asked to pay higher rates than coffee shops and the twee ones we use at weekends. In fact, all shop workers should have a degree in order to handle change and understand us and our intelligent requests for things we've just read about on a website but don't quite know anything about. And anyone not sounding the h in hello, or not bowing as they give us change, should be sacked, especially if they work in the co-op. Any dirty business, that is, anything making anything, should be relocated to Brighouse or somewhere dirty.

Politics. Only offcumdens can stand for elected office as only we know the needs of the local population, or at least the minority of the minority that actually vote, which pretty much includes all our three friends and some people we met on the commute. But local people cannot be trusted to act in the interests of the wider community, ever. They should be patronised when their support is required and ignored in office. As offcumdens, we know what's best for everybody and can be trusted to make tough decisions, like getting rid of a bowling club that was used by old people who didn't even wear berets or anything.

If we want to really make this town work, we've also got to get a grip on those locals who seem to think that some of us are socially autistic morons, so we should close the library too as there's clearly some sort of elicit education going on somewhere that's making these people think they're not as thick as we keep telling them they are..

From Lizzie D

Monday, 23 May 2011

And the band played on Ilkely Moor baht'hat.

From Jonathan Timbers

Saturday, 23 May 2011

Twenty years ago, when I first moved to Hebden Bridge, I lived next door to 96 year old Mrs Crabtree. I once asked her if she was from Hebden Bridge. "No," she replied. "Oh," I said innocently, "so when did you move here". "1915" she responded firmly.

So although I've lived here most of my adult life, and now three generations of my family go about their daily lives in the town, I always say 'no' when tourists ask me if I am local (but I still show them how to get to where they want to go, if that's what they'd like).

Living here, one thing that has struck me more and more over the years is the marginalisation of local people. Sometimes, this is literal marginalisation in the estates on the edge of town (Dodd Naze, Colden, Fairfield); sometimes it's the result of having created different instituitions and businesses, including private schools and expensive shops. I've heard more open snobbery about accents here than I ever did growing up in the West Midlands. I think some peoples' attitudes are disgusting and it's not as if they've exactly done anything amazing in their lives to merit their superior attitudes.

Not everyone is like that of course and many do send their children to local state schools and try to be open, but some of the posts on this thread show that we need to become even more so. This isn't unique to Hebden Bridge of course but it is an acknowledged national problem, with finds an individual form hereabouts.

It was summed up by an essay I read the other day by a left-wing academic called Jonathan Rutherford called 'The Future is Conservative', which is part of a debate supported by Ed and David Miliband, which goes under the name of 'Blue Labourism'. The debate acknowledges some of the anger we have heard in this thread although some of the contributions are superficial and pretentious and frankly should be avoided (e.g. Maurice Glasman). Not Rutherford in my opinion, on the whole, though. He writes:

'amongst the educated elite..economic modernisation has led to an affirmation of racial and cultural difference, and a celebration of novel experience and the expanding (sic) of individual choice (but accompanied by a failure to adequately deal with racism). These have been part and parcel of the neoliberal era and have been considered unquestionable social goods that enrich life and enlarge freedom. But across the country a more conservative culture holds sway which values identity and belonging in the local and the familiar. Economic modernisation, 'the new', and difference, are often viewed more sceptically, and as potential threats to social stability and the continuity of community'.

Seems to sum a lot of the debate above up pretty well imho.

You can download the lot for free from here. ('The Labour Tradition and the Politics of Paradox') . Rutherford's essay appears from pg 89 onwards. Before anyone sneers, read it and think again.

From Ron Taylor

Sunday, 5 June 2011

A couple of people have asked me what the less than genteel phrase, used by friends to describe Hebden Bridge,was.In fact, they said that "(HB) seems a little up its own arse." (Not sure if "arse" can be published on Hebweb, but what the hell.

From Peter Rowlands

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Hard not to be confused. The British colonised large parts of the world, came with Cook and Rhodes and Hawke and Livingstone; and went with Macmillan's winds of change.

Across the planet, peoples shift and take up temporary or permanent lives in places and countries that they never imagined being part of... sometimes through choice and sometimes through circumstance.

I left the Calder Valley a while back to return to NZ but I continue to be confounded by how contentious being in Hebden is... an oft articulated sense of how golden it is and yet a grumbling question of how much right different people have to the glitter.

Migration has been with us since the Picts and Saxons... why are the British so anxious about the boundaries of where they live? Why is HB any funkier or cooler than anywhere else... why isn't contentment just found in choice to be there, lived in its moment and cognisant of community and its challenges (and no, HB is not bereft of issues and conflicts... what place is)?

From Paul D

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Migration has indeed been with us for millennia, but those least concerned with boundaries and space tend to be those with the power to ignore or exploit both. There is no doubt that the poorer members of our community are being displaced by inward migration, the housing stock is finite and the demand appears insatiable. Instead of blaming others for a failure to find contentment in the here and now we should wonder what they need to cope in a situation they didn't create. Social housing might help, but that is routinely objected to on the basis of TPTBH: too poor to be here.

From Em F

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

More and more people can't afford to buy houses, not just in Hebden but all over Britain. I think the change could be liberating... There are plenty of alternatives that make more sense to me than burdening oneself with a mortgage. Rent, lodge, houseshare, live on a boat, join/invent a housing co-operative, find live-in work... It's not what we're used to in Britain but in other parts of the world, even parts as culturally close as Germany, house-ownership is not the norm. Perhaps it won't be the norm here either soon enough, it'll just be a phase we went through for a while...

There'll always be some people who through luck or hard work have lots of money and can buy land or property.... but once it's no longer the accepted/expected thing that everyone's supposed to aspire to, we might all be able to relax about it a bit more and be content with the alternatives?

From Jonathan Timbers

Friday, 10 June 2011

Great to hear from Peter again! How I miss him!

When Peter lived here though the local/ offcumden balance hadn't tipped quite so dramatically as it has now. The position of the 'locals' is not unique but is reflected throughout the Pennines and England, where people feel threatened by change and dislocation, the fragmentation and dissolution of class identities (which as we have seen are being replaced by more local notions of identity) and a perceived lack of respect by liberal elites.

I still think 'Wuthering Heights' explores the theme of locals v offcumdens very well (Lockwood, the narrator, is an offcumden from London, looking for Romantic nature; Heathcliffe is both an outsider and epitomises the area. Lockwood finds his manners crude and unacceptable - he's before his time and would be comfortable in the Pennine simulacra of contemporary HB).

Local identity is also described in detail by Ted Hughes in his introduction to the CD of 'Remains of Elmet' - he saw it as organically evolved from the harshness of the surroundings, but recognised that it was disappearing fast.

In the end, notwithstanding our university degrees, the locals have had their identities recorded and explored by literary giants who grew up with them. Perhaps local schools could make more of a point of honouring those rich indigenous traditions.

And I would still advise anyone thinking of moving into the area to read 'Wuthering Heights' if they want to get an idea of the real 'Yarkshire' - unless they are solicitors, in which case I'd advise refreshing your knowledge of land law (particularly around grazing rights, easements etc) and nuisance. Reasonable amounts of money in that - and divorce of course, especially in HB itself.

From Jill S

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Wow. I'm from Canada (in uk 14yrs +) where everyone was offcumden at somepoint. And somewhere like Vancouver, the demographics have shifted so much in the last couple of decades that it is impossible for a local to buy a house. It happens everywhere nice! I have heard the exact same sense of sadness for a long lost community pre-1960 in many towns in the UK. I mean historically populations shift and move everywhere - it just happens. It happens in neighborhoods in London (gentrification). And it is possible that some of the 'original' locals great grandparents were not from HB. and so on.

I could be mistaken but I thought the house prices were not bad for a beautiful setting like HB. Forget the organics. I would have thought because of it's beauty and surroundings that it was always going to catch on at some point.

I hope if I were to land there with the kids permanently that we'd be given a chance. (We are charming.)

See also

'A dark side to Hebden Bridge' (Oct-Nov 2010)

A Move to Hebden Bridge (Aug-Sept 2009)

Living in Hebden Bridge (April 2007)

HebWeb News - Hebden Bridge: 4th funkiest town in the World (May 2005)