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Hebden Bridge, a 700 year story

. . . and how it was nearly lost

updated Saturday, 18 April 2015

To Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Calder Civic Trust and their successful campaign to prevent the demolition of most of Hebden Bridge in the 1960s, there is to be a screening of a film at Hebden Bridge Picture House on Saturday 2nd May 2015 at 5pm, doors open 4.40pm, which tells this story.

The second half of this film has a montage of remarkable images of the parts of the town that had already been destroyed before the campaign began and there are some remarkable buildings that were lost at that time.

It also reveals a secret plan to knock down nearly all the town centre that we know today, which would have entailed the destruction of Crown Street, Bridgegate and half of St George's Square to be replaced with modern flat roofed buildings to attract all the big named national stores.

You also hear about the plan to knock down most of Market Street, Oldgate, St George's Bridge, Bridge Mill and the White Lion Inn to build a massive by-pass with a flyover and necessitated the destruction of just about everywhere else.

However, this is during the weekend when the first ever 'Tour de Yorkshire' cycle race will come through the Calder Valley, the following day, so the film starts with the razamatazz of people waiting for the Tour de France between Hebden Bridge and Cragg Vale last year when 340,000 people lined the roads of Calderdale, and is peppered with some funny anecdotes from local people. But after looking at last year's Tour de France, it tells the story of how the town came into being and it's development from a few buildings on the river in 1314 to the great textile town that it became in late Victorian England and then through it's gradual decline. 

But how do you mix together last year's Tour de France with the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Calder Civic Trust, as well as the 700th anniversary of Bridge Mill, the 200th anniversary of the original Stoodley Pike monument and the 100th anniversary of the World War One? This was the challenge facing filmmaker Nick Wilding, as he prepared this latest film.

'Hebden Bridge, A 700 Year Story , and how it was nearly lost, attempts to do just this. The story  includes Henry VIII, Roundheads and Cavaliers, stagecoaches and the Hebden Bridge 'Brigg Races'. This event was held until 1820 and local people raced stark naked up commercial street and it is very modestly portrayed in the film through Mike Bryson's cartoons.

Nick says that he does not want the film to get an X certificate rating! The film then takes in Stoodley Pike, the birth of the railways and the earliest photographs and the construction of the town's main shopping area.

Then you see the traumatic impact on local people of World War One and the shocking number of lads, who never ended up being recorded on any local cenotaph or memorial and the creditable task of local people in producing a roll of honour in time for the centenary last year, so that this will never be the case again.

In the 1960s, there are many fascinating photographs of the areas of the town that had already been knocked down before the Calder Civic Trust came into being, courtesy of a whole range of local photographic collections now administered through the fine Pennine Horizons Digital Archive.

At the end there is a Q&A with the filmmaker and one or two founder members of the Calder Civic Trust.   

Nick has conceded to the HebWeb that the story is incomplete without mention of the Queens Terrace squatters and the alternative types who moved to Hebden Bridge in the 1970s, and who also played an important part in preventing further demolition. Another film for the future perhaps.

Length 80 minutes

Saturday 2nd May 2015 at 5pm in the Picture House.

Doors Open 4.40pm.