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My town

From David Sharman

Saturday, 10 March 2018

I am an outsider, in fact I’m an outsider’s outsider which gives me a perspective on Hebden Bridge.  We’ve lived in the Upper Calder Valley for nearly three years now and my experiences of interactions in Hebden Bridge haven’t been positive. 

I couldn’t quite put my finger on the problem that is Hebden Bridge at first, but there were a couple of things that helped to put things in perspective.  

I joined a choir in Hebden Bridge not long after we moved here as I had been singing for a number of years beforehand.  What started as a warm and welcoming feeling led to a slow feeling that somehow I wasn’t welcome.  The attitudes towards me seemed (to me at least) to change and become frosty over only a few months. Sharped clipped tones replaced the warmth I previously experienced, and a tipping point was eventually reached over a misunderstanding relating to an administrative matter following a concert.  I resigned and moved on.  Some time later, we attended a concert by a string quartet at the Town Hall and bumped into the choir’s music director.  We had a polite conversation but was struck by a remark she made that the choir “was too far out for me”.  Of course I knew exactly what that meant.  It was code for: “You’re not one of us.  You don’t fit in because you are the wrong class.”  My desire to call her out was tempered by the fact that I didn’t want to create tension and spoil an otherwise wonderful evening of beautiful music, so I bit my lip but I feel very angry about the whole 

Secondly, there was an article in the ‘i-paper’ about Hebden Bridge where a business owner described Hebden Bridge in the past as a “stinky old mill town”, a terrible insult to the working-class men and women who worked in the mills, creating products that contributed to our national wellbeing and prosperity.  This attitude is verified in an article by a young man on this very website who describes how he felt left out of the town’s recent success (unfortunately, I can’t find it)

Me and my husband moved north to escape the petty provincial snobbery that dominates much of the south, only to find it here in Hebden Bridge.  Hebden Bridge has to wake up and realise that despite it’s vibrant LGBT community and diversity it has one massive problem - a problem with class, and a problem what has airbrushed some of its working class residents out of the picture.


My town - Dec 2017-Jan 2018