The Bridge Lanes community of yesterday
How wonderful to recapture your childhood by visiting the places you knew long ago, seeing once again familar street and houses. Then up steps, round corners, through yards, narrow ginnels, low walls, back alleys. To remember the faces and families of long ago. But, alas, not for me because my home was one hundred and two Bridge Lanes, its claim to fame being the only house with a large bay window. No longer there, just a bus stop as a memorial to these unique houses which utilized every bit of available space.
Between Bridge Lanes and Heptonstall Road was a busy community, home to so many, yet passed by thousands each year as they travel up or down this busy road and see only a grassy slope with trees and bushes. The graveyard of houses and shops which once covered this area.
This thriving part of Hebden Bridge contained almost as many shops and business as any small town. The facts are these, situated in Bridge Lanes were eleven shops, one painter and decorating business, plumber's workshop, a small house used for worship, an electricians workpace and shop, two clothing manufacturers, an undertaker, two lodging houses (men only), a bottling plant that produced locally made lemonade, large upholstery firm, a pub, and last but not least gentlemen and a ladies conveniences at the bottom and a gents only toilet situated next to the telephone box at the top.
This number of busy shops does not include the ones situated in Heptonstall Road. A second fish and chip shop, another pub, a large grocery store, a small shop that made home made sweets. Then another grocers shop, so full of goods you could hardly turn round, whilst opposite was the well known Pie Sammys bakery and shop. If you wanted to walk further up the hill you would find a shop that sold bread, cakes and a few groceries, this was nestled between the houses in Queens Terrace.
I am not sure whether the tiny woman who lived in Heptonstall Road and laid out the dead could be called a business, but certainly she was an important member of the community. I ought to mention the Youth Club set up by the Rev Bingham, situated in High Street, where activities for all ages were organized, from table tennis to sewing classes for the girls.
So what were all these streets called that have disappeared for ever? The longest one was High Street with access to New Street, Back High Street and Croft Place. The beginning of High Street was Heptonstall Road and the end led into Cuckoo Steps - still there - which in turn led down into Market Street or back up into Heptonstall Road. To remember High Street was to remember the delicious pies from Pie Sammy's a well known figure around Hebden Bridge, who could be seen with a large covered basket filled with freshly made pies, the pastry was perfection, the meat delicious and the gravy ran free.
Leah Frith (now Coneron)