WHAT a difference a year makes. The Upper Calder Valley towns of Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Todmorden were devastated 12 months ago as floodwater ravaged their communities.
This year it’s sunshine all the way and the tourists are flocking back to this historic and picturesque valleys of Yorkshire that made its name due to its waterways and water-powered weaving mills alongside the River Calder, Hebden Water and the Rochdale Canal.
For those who often wonder why populations accelerate in areas that have always been susceptible to flooding, the reason is simple. People settle where businesses grow and more become attracted because of this popularity.
The mills in Hebden Bridge brought great prosperity from the 1850s, particularly when William Barker realised there was a workforce that could also manufacture clothing. This led to Hebden Bridge’s “Trouser Town” nickname as his factory became synonymous with the production of working clothes.
Prior to Hebden Bridge’s rise as a town in its own right Heptonstall was the main community, situated up the hill. It is very much the little brother to Hebden Bridge today, but was built up on a more common sense approach of being on higher ground with no risk of suffering the same fate when the rains come.
Hebden Bridge is arguably the most well-loved of Yorkshire’s western outposts and since the 1970s has developed an intriguing atmosphere of olde-worlde quaintness combined with coffee shop
HIGHER GROUND: Heptonstall parish church. The village was the main community before its neighbour’s rise to prosperity.