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My town

From David Tut

Saturday, 16 December 2017

What is happening to my home town of Hebden Bridge? And I don't want to hear someone say, oh it's all better for it. Well, it isn't. This was a close friendly local town, we had the local police station, fire station, banks, bowling green, tennis courts, proper shops, and pubs that had darts, dominoes, and pool teams and everyone talked to each other.

And then we had real characters, too many to say. Now at times I feel a stranger in my home town. No wonder a iot of my friends i grew up with left and will never come back.

I love this town and thankfully we still have the cinema, thanks to the Friends of the Cinema and all the good work put into it.

Well, that's my say to end the year, happy new year!

From John Baker

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Yep, austerity happened.

I live in Ripponden these days. It's like Hebden, but without the traffic chaos or the foul-mouthed drunks in the park.

In fact, that should be Ripponden's motto. 

From Jenny B

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Having grown up here, I used to feel lucky to be able to bring up my own children here. I get that, without the influx of new blood via the ‘hippy invasion/city workers/artists’ the town would have possibly stagnated and not been developed into a tourist town, But, I also quite resent that these newer settlers think that they somehow saved us and improved our town.

Maybe, left to our own devices, our little town would have been ok. We did have cafes, curry houses, real ale pubs and other amenities pre 1970s.

Yes, it’s great that we still have butchers, bakers and the like, but where are the children’s clothes shops; affordable shoe shops; a decent supermarket; and as David says - tennis court, bowling green, youth clubs of my youth.

I want to support my local shops, but they don’t  seem to sell much of anything that I need. I can get a latte every 20 yards or so. If I want a pint, I can go in any number of plastic pubs; micro bars; wine bars or licensed cafes whilst playing dodge the dog sprawled across the floors of said places; I can get organic hoummous in 3-4 different shops. But if I fancy a fish and chip supper I have to go to Mytholmroyd. 

I can stroll around my town, enjoying the pretty window displays, browse the numerous higher priced charity shops (yes they are) and dodge the hundreds of tourists and their dogs doing the same thing. But I might not see anyone I know, because like my friends, we avoid the town during summer and at weekends because it no longer feels like home. 

It is all so artificial and fake jolly. Targeting and meeting the needs of the middle classes that move here for this twee vision of small town life, unable to see or acknowledge the hidden poverty of those that have been left behind in this gentrification of our valley. Pushing for better train links to cities so they can have the best if both worlds. Forgetting about our older and isolated folk whose bus services are being cut, who are stranded when hilltop lanes go ungritted, whose neighbours work in the city so don’t pop in to see if they need anything. 

I shall shortly be moving from my town. I should be sad, but in choosing to move just up the valley to Todmorden, I see it as chasing the dream of living in a community that cares again. 

Merry Christmas to you all. 

From Andy M

Monday, 18 December 2017

The  last time I looked there was a perfectly functioning fish and chop shop on Crown Street? And a functioning, vibrant local community.

Change indeed happens, thankfully, and some things stay the same - visitors have been coming to Hebden for a long, long time! Some things are unwelcome - inflated house prices for example  - but overall I don't recognise the picture you paint of my town. 

From Jenny B

Monday, 18 December 2017

Speak as you find Andy, that’s all that I do and I respect your opinion. But can I just point out that I said ‘supper’ the Crown Street chippy closes by 6-7pm. 
I’m hankering after the days of a bag of chips on the way home from the pub.

For me, the move  to Todmorden was led by it having Lidl, a family friendly park, the swimming pool, good markets (oh and the Wetherspoons and late chippy) all of which influenced my decision. Then ultimately, yes the lower house prices and the neighbourliness clinched it.

From Phil M

Monday, 18 December 2017

I guess you are absolutely doing the right thing; if you don’t like where you live, move to somewhere you do like. I guess I am one of those 'out of town working, twee vision seekers'.. sorry about that!

Places change. All over the world places change, demographics shift and people see this more or less based purely on their own experiences. 

I don’t see plastic pubs. I spend a lot of very pleasurable time enjoying the older Fox. Yesterday afternoon was just like it always is and hopefully always will be and the Trades was its normal lovely self and the newer establishments - Vocation, Callans, Nightjar etc all lovely, friendly places run by lovely local people and frequented by the same. 

Dogs are allowed in many pubs, its not just a Hebden thing and is welcomed across the country as hostelries try to bring in trade by all means possible, not excluding dog-owners is a good measure and helps places stay open.

If I want fish and chips I buy them from Crown fisheries and they are lovely. I can also choose from an amazing array of other foods across the town. Again, I feel lucky!

Our local services are dwindling. Not sure it can be directly attributed to my need to get a train to work. It’s a country-wide phenomenon as the rising and aging population struggle to live on this rock. That coupled with the rubbish government that we endure.

Our local shops remain ace, independent and something to celebrate. For example, I eat meat so try and buy it all from the local shops. It’s actually far better quality, locally sourced and if you buy right, not overpriced. In this day of internet shopping (again, not my fault even tho I do indulge) I would not expect a well-priced shoe or clothes shop to be in our town. People are voting with their keyboard skills and buying online. This is affecting all shops in all towns and cities. 

We are a tourist town. People like to come and spend time. This is because its lovely and this in turn allows local people to open shops to make visitor’s time (and ours) pleasant.   

As I said at the start, I am a newcomer, only in my 11th year of living in Hebden so probably not able to speak with the conviction and insight that people who grew up here can, but I love it, it feels alive, it has bounced back from the flood devastation in a community based way that still amazes me and fills me with pride. I guess to me, it does feel like home.

Merry Christmas! 

From Andy P

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Places change, people move, people meet people from other places and want to live together, that's what happens. Hebden Bridge changed and people moved to create the nostalgic Hebden Bridge you remember.

From Dave R

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Having been raised in Hebden Bridge in the 50s and 60s, and only recently returned to live here to be closer to my elderly mother, I always find it slightly amusing that the newcomers to the town, are often the most insistent that we live in this little oasis of calm, with everything we need within walking distance, all with a great community spirit. 

Maybe they are not the same people who are up in arms about a take-away coffee machine in our only supermarket, or the ones who drive up and down the valley to Lidl and Wetherspoons? Have frequent Amazon deliveries?

Perhaps they are some of the multitudes who get an Ocado delivery of their weekly shop?

Because, with the best will in the world, we can not buy all we need in Hebden Bridge, and more importantly for many residents we cannot afford to buy all we need here.

I can accept that things change, and that we need to change to evolve. 
But unless you knew Hebden Bridge when it was a town of great little shops, including butchers, bakers, cobblers, shoe shops and good quality affordable clothing shops for men, women and children, then its rather condescending to argue that it is now better. 

Unless you live and work in the town, it is unfair to say that locally sourced food and drink are always affordable to all residents. 

Unless you rely solely on public transport instead of  driving to work, or parking your car at the station for your commute by rail, you cannot fully know the impact of reduced services to our hill top villages.

Unless you sometimes take off the rose tinted glasses, you cannot fail to see that we have a real shortage of social and/or affordable  housing for our local young people (coffee shop wages are not that great); that we have problems with ant-social behaviour; have residents with drink and drug related problems.  That there is little for our youth to do; that there is  very little opportunity for our children to  integrate with children of other cultures.

I have lived in small towns; villages; cities, and the big smoke. All of which at that time have felt like home, because I am with the people I want to be with. 

It has sometimes been easier to make friends in the city than villages. I have seen community spirit, a generosity of the heart and neighbourliness from people in the biggest cities;  from all walks of life, from many different cultures and races.

Living in my 'hometown' of Hebden Bridge, I find that so many people seem determined to be quirky; funky; artisan and 'So Hebden Bridge', that they too forget to embrace change, preferring the town to be locked into this trendy utopian image that they have created.

The majority of us are fortunate that we can live where we wish, we can reminisce about the changes in our home town both good and bad; we can be accepting of progress and new developments such as coffee machines, and generous enough to look after our neighbours, not just those defined as being within 'our communities'. 

We can try to make good things happen, use the creative energy to make our parks safer as well as make paper puppets.

Hebden Bridge is still my town and always will be. That doesn't have to mean it's my favourite place to be, but for now it'll do.

From Ruth F

Saturday, 6 January 2018

I've been pondering the post by Jenny B for a while now, about feeling forced to move from Hebden Bridge to Todmorden.

Myself, I've lived as far away from here as Ulverston, also in Kendal, Lancaster, Preston, Todmorden, Halifax and now Hebden Bridge (Heptonstall).

My sister has lived in Preston, Aberdeen, Sheffield, Dublin, near Lancaster and now northern Ireland.

And many people move around much greater distances than that.

Moving to Tod ... is only 5 mins on the train from Hebden Bridge.

It's normal in today's world to move around from place to place, and the four or five miles from Hebden Bridge to Tod is barely a dislocation at all. And since it's close enough for you to have been able to check it out to be sure about your move, I think it is great that you have found somewhere so close to go, where you won't lose contact with friends in Hebden Bridge.

I've lived in Tod and enjoyed it, and now I live near HB and love it.  Horses for courses :)  At least you don't have to spend a year living in Halifax like I did!

From Zilla Brown

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Hi Ruth F.
I think you are missing the salient point in what Jenny is saying. To say "In today's world this is how it is"...etc etc

Can you take on board that some of us, from Yorkshire or wherever it happens to be, feel a strong heartfelt sense of identity with a place through long standing family or historical connections? So to feel pushed out what really is My Town and compelled to leave your original place (in the true sense) - even if its only 5 miles away - is a really big thing ?

For you to say (casually or in a worldly or  sophisticated manner  whatever) that you have moved around a lot name dropping here and there so ergo have never felt any real connection in terms of original place with an area  just indicates that you don't  really understand what you have lost and  it's something more valuable than you ever knew  though you might not care.

This does not negate what Jenny is talking about which is a real sense of sorrow and loss. It might well be the way of the world now but does that mean all is OK and a feeling for a place of no importance? This is what is destroying places like (sorry for sarc) our great little town. 

From Ruth F

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Zilla, actually I feel more connected in Hebden Bridge than I ever have anywhere else I've lived, but then am being asked to feel guilty by people who consider the town theirs and the old ways, such as they were, superior because people like me like it here.

The world has changed and a five mile move is a very, very local one.

Sorry folks don't like it, but times change.

From Graham Barker

Sunday, 7 January 2018

It’s clear (to me at any rate, I’ll do the decent thing and exonerate everybody else) that there’s a quite unpleasant gulf opening up between those with a lifelong stake in a place, and who have as families and local communities helped make it what it is, and those with the economic muscle to displace them by making their home turf unaffordable. 

It’s bad enough that there is a market inevitability about this without the attitude of some incomers being, ‘Times change, get used to it.’ (Subtext: off you go and shut the door on your way out.) 

Elsewhere this process is called gentrification, and the sort of middle-class people who come to live in Hebden Bridge are most likely agin it if they see it happening elsewhere. But not, it seems, when it’s happening because of them.

From J Swift

Monday, 8 January 2018

'Local shops for local people', eh?  What could possibly go wrong?

More seriously, there's an ugly whiff of nativism to some of the comments here.  

Is there really any difference between the xenophobia that sees migrants from outside the UK as threatening and the idea that people who've recently moved to a particular town somehow have less right to be there than those who are 'born and bred'?

From Jade I

Monday, 8 January 2018

I have lived here for a number of years, and I'm sorry to say that I have been made to feel very unwelcome by some people here, who still enjoy telling me how much longer they have lived here than me.

I thought Yorkshire was meant to be a friendly place. 

From Martin C

Monday, 8 January 2018

I have to agree with J Swift that some of the posts on this thread are turning unpleasantly ugly.

I was born and raised in Hebden Bridge, and have returned to retire in the area. I dread to say where my career has taken me in the intermediate years, if Ruth's mention of her movements around the North are termed name-dropping or make her (heaven forbid) sophisticated!

Change is the only constant in this world, so embrace it or suffer the consequences. Hebden Bridge is undoubtably a far, far more pleasant place to live than it was 45 years ago when I left. But for anyone to think that the town is their personal property ("My town") and should remain preserved in aspic as they like it/as it was is both unrealistic and self-centred.

From Zilla Brown

Monday, 8 January 2018

So it seems opinion is divided into roughly 2 groups about  “My Town” -the ones who  are nostalgic and regret some changes brought over time and then there are  the others who aren’t and  don’t .

So two groups with different views- that’s good - differences of opinion and calm open discussion are good aren’t they ?. 

Certainly some people on the thread  have gone to great lengths to explain why they regret some of the inevitable changes that have occurred in the town. However, when other people answer these arguments by using terms like “ugly whiff of nativism” and ”xenophobia" also “turning unpleasantly ugly”  about those whose opinions innocently differ from theirs then you just know that’s the end of any useful discussion.

From Allen Keep

Monday, 8 January 2018

I don't agree with J Swift at all. While I don't agree with everything they have said I don't see anywhere where folk like Jenny, Dave and Zilla suggest some people have less right to be here than others? 

If you listen to what they are saying, and they should be listened to and respected, that's not their point at all. To equate them and their views with zenophobes and anti-immigration attitudes is really insulting frankly. 

I rarely agree with Graham but he makes a very valid point here. Some, but thankfully by no means all, of the offcumdens in this town really need to have a little more sensitivity and awareness and a damn sight less sense of entitlement.

From Andy M

Monday, 8 January 2018

Allen, you lost me after you wrote 'offcumdens' I'm afraid.

It's a silly concept and always seems a precursor to some form of intolerance. 

From J Swift

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

"Some, but thankfully by no means all, of the offcumdens in this town really need to have a little more sensitivity and awareness and a damn sight less sense of entitlement."

Substitute 'Muslims' or 'Foreigners' fo r 'offcumdens' in that sentence, and you'll see how close it is to tabloid bigotry.  Which was my original point...

From Graham Barker

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

J Swift - Allen’s comments don’t even come close to bigotry, and they never do. He was expressing an opinion based on personal experience and perception, as do most posters on this forum. It doesn’t help to have honest comment turned into fodder for those looking for offence or bigotry or xx-ophobia at every turn.

From Chris Barnett

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Blimey, this is getting a bit like the Protest in The Square thread…

I'll stick my head above the parapet to make two points:

1. There seems to be an assumption that the population of Hebden Bridge consists of people whose families have lived here since the dawn of time or else rich arrogant hipsters who moved in last week (I'm exaggerating slightly, but not much).

Let's not forget that there are an awful lot of people who don't have family history here, but have lived here a long time, raised families and have contributed to and become part of the community (whatever that is).

2. Hebden Bridge has always been changing, still is, and will continue so to do. Sometimes the changes are for the better, sometimes not. But it's not just Hebden Bridge: the whole world is changing, always has, always will - that's life.

From Jenny B

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

 Blimey! ‘My town’ was the heading given to this debate, and not intended to be  taken as illustrating any sense of personal ownership.

I was born here to non-local parents in the 1960s, so have no claim to that local connection of having 3 sets of grandparents in the churchyard.

Like others, I was mourning the loss of a gentler past, whilst also trying to point out that Hebden’s great little town label, isn’t something new, nor was this necessarily created by new settlers, anymore than selling trousers labelled ‘designed in Trouser Town’ is.

From David Kennedy

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Do you know what? I don't actually care what anybody thinks about Hebden Bridge, I just know that I love living here. I escape from the bubble once in a while which is healthy, but I know when I step off the train, back in Hebden and my feet are back on it's hallowed turf, I feel like I am home am my heart soars. Dramatic I know, but it's the way I feel!
Get beyond the negativity, it is a very special place! 

Celebrate that we live n a place where it doesn't matter what sexuality, race, religion you are realy doesn't matter because nobody cares! 
We are all just getting on with our lives and the only things that matter to most people who live here is if you are a half decent person, who cares!

Hey, if you don't like it in Hebden, move out, it is your choice. I know where I would rather be.

From Dave H

Thursday, 11 January 2018


You have brilliantly articulated everything I was thinking about this, and other (Facebook etc) threads bemoaning what a terrible place Hebden is to live. Well said.

From Allen Keep

Friday, 12 January 2018

'm glad David loves living here, so do I, but I just wish that people who have this rather idealistic and often individualistic view of Hebden would be a bit more understanding of those who see things differently. 

I, for instance, would agree that HB is a far more "tolerant" town than most in many ways - but to describe it as a place where nobody at all cares about others' race, religion and sexuality, as if we have somehow been teleported to a prejudice-free Nirvana, is ridiculous.

Other people here have questioned this idealism, have raised concerns and issues they care about in what is their town too - and some have even dared to hanker after a time when things were different here, which they may have preferred.

And how they have been vilified - people who can't cope with change, moaners and xenophobes the lot off them. 

So much for tolerance - but then, what would I know - I'm a bigot apparently.

It's all good though, nothing to worry about, nothing to spoil the endless celebration of living here. David has the answer and the life choice you too can make if you don't like the HB he describes - you can move out and take your negativity with you.

From Kez Armitage

Friday, 12 January 2018

I agree 100% with David Kennedy. I love living here.

I love the location, the shops, the people, the great transport links, the walking and outdoor recreation. OK, I'm not so keen on having more than our fair share of rain, but that's a small price to pay.

You can go into any pub or club and have a conversation with most people, and it matters not one iota whether they're new to town, have lived here man and boy/ woman and girl, are young or old, have a southern or northern accent, are gay, lesbian, hetero, left wing, right wing, are of non-indigenous heritage. People are almost invariably interesting and will usally engage willingly.

Of course there are troublemakers who (usually under the influence of whatever substance) will pontificate about 'Bloody ******s' (fill the asterisks in with any minority group). That's true of anywhere. But in the forty years I've been here, things have become progressively more tolerant, and bias and bigotry is now very much the exception.

My only regret about the changes in our town is the fact that certain groups of people are being priced out of being able to live here. But that only endorses the fact that people want to live here because it's such a great place - simple supply and demand economics. It's the same in other 'desirable' places. There are regrettably villages in the Dales which die in winter as the second home owners put up the shutters until Easter (at least, thank goodness, we don't suffer much from that). But the provision of affordable housing doesn't seem to be what this thread is about, and is more a matter for local and central government.

No of course Hebden Bridge isn't some sort of Shangri La, full of smiling dancing people (like the set of some toe-curlingly awful musical). We don't greet people with a quick round of "Consider yourself at home, consider yourself part of the family". But I do think that people spend perhaps too much time looking for issues that don't really exist to any meaningful extent.

From Michael Prior

Friday, 12 January 2018

This thread is rather going round in circles without ever getting to the central problem in Hebden. We are an ageing population. If you want to see the evidence for this look at the brilliant ONS graphics here and try putting Calderdale and Islington side-by-side). Whilst we sip our coffee and grumble a bit about the lack of good pubs (or not) our children leave for the south to find jobs. Those who don't get out end up stranded and a bit hopeless.

What Hebden needs more than new shops are some proper small business units which could house start-up businesses and begin to provide some job opportunities other than cafe or shop work. The scandal is that the land for such development lies vacant or underused. 

Hebden is actually surrounded by such dereliction outside its cosy shop and cafe centre. The most obvious is the one plot actually identified in the pathetic 'local plan' as a Development Zone. A small packed public carpark; a patch of derelict land posing as a temporary carpark with a huge sign offering non-existent 'small retail units' for sale (surely a case for the advertising standards agency) and a derelict  telephone exchange with an empty carpark. (It says a lot for the law-abiding citizens of this town that they actually obey the sign forbidding entry to this whilst crawling around looking for a space).

There are even bigger patches of dereliction within ten minutes walk.

Just why the property companies who own this land hang on to it without the slightest effort at development is a mystery. But if we really want to make Hebden a home for other than the aged then there really needs to be something done. Or perhaps our lovely town deserves its fate. 

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Allen Keep says: 'Some, but thankfully by no means all, of the offcumdens in this town really need to have a little more sensitivity and awareness and a damn sight less sense of entitlement.'

I wonder if he could give us some examples of this lack of sensitivity, awareness and sense of entitlement.

From Allen Keep

Sunday, 14 January 2018

My feeling, Paul, was that some of the comments in the thread at the time I posted were in themselves examples of these things and I continue to feel so. As for other examples - I hear what people say and I observe how people behave here as we all do - it's a small place - and my sense from those experiences is that there is an individualistic and self-centred sense of entitlement amongst some people here which I find demonstrates a lack of sensitivity towards others and a lack of awareness of the issues and concerns others have. 

Just my opinion/observation - you will have a different view than me as you invariably do I'm sure and that's fine.

From Paul D

Monday, 29 January 2018

Well it's not really 'my town'. I live here, was born here, grew up here, and by reason of being geographically located here I'm local. Any other definition is subjective nonsense but perhaps culturally significant. So, I'm local (live here) and local 'from' here (whatever that means). But really my opinion is worth no more than that if a sticky fingered day tripper enjoying a 'cone of chips' in Crown Street (and if you don't want to just die at the 'cone' bit just stop reading right now).

The town is on its arse. Yes, great people are loving the pop up bars and night time economy, these are bubbles, yada yada yada - it's transient crap. And the really cheap houses require about a 25 grand if you include legal fees and work at a 90% mortgage. Your overpriced yet to be found out 'Dutch bulb' HB terraces are about double the regional rate, but out of reach to many with repayments of £1.5K to whatever a month.

The local average wage (excludbg commuters) is about £14K. It's not about 'local' it's about the rich shafting the less well off. So for me, this is purely speculators shafting young people. As in - Britain 3018. Nothing special.

From Andy M

Monday, 29 January 2018

If there weren't any commuters here (yet another label for people) the town really  would be 'on it's arse'. 

From Paul D

Monday, 29 January 2018

Oh not more 'look at how important commuters are' stuff. Next it'll be how the hippies 'saved' Hebden Bridge

Yes, we'd all be eating nettles if it wasn't for the heroic efforts of our betters. I should just know my place, go and doff my flat cap to those brave souls taking the 7:43 to Victoria just to keep our economy ticking along. I'm so ungrateful. 

From J Swift

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Wait, what?  Somewhere that people are setting up businesses and want to live (which is what high house prices mean) is 'on its arse'??  

And where does your average wage figure of £14K come from? That's about 35 hrs/wk on NMW.  Sure, some people are on less hours, but equally, many people are on much more than NMW. Average UK salary is about £28K for full timers.  Plus, how do you come by a figure that strips out 'commuters' (to where?  Tod?  Halifax?)? Citation needed, as the young ones say.

That aside, assuming for the moment that your analysis is accurate, what do you actually suggest as a strategy for providing well paid locally based work?  How do you propose we create more affordable housing?  

From Tim B

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

I'm a commuter and I like eating nettles (soup mainly); I'm really confused now....

From Andy M

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

You and your like have brought this town to its knees Tim! ;-)

This thread is provoking strong opinions. Please keep your messages respectful to different points of view. See guidelines - Thanks, Ed