OK, just for a second, try and imagine the quintessence of Yorkshire. What immediately springs to mind? Flat caps? Dry and monotone voices? Grim and grimy rows of infinite, anonymous terrace houses? Indeed, all of those are synonymous, especially with the west riding of England's largest county, Yorkshire. However, there is one secluded town in the Calderdale, that bucks the trend set by its neighbours, and that town is Hebden Bridge.
The real joy of Hebden rail station is that it still retains all its original features - cast iron name plates and signs still adorn the platform whilst an original signal box still operates beyond the platforms' edge. The station has a handsome and highly retrospective booking office housed in a grand old stone building.
I passed an attractive young lady wearing some of the most rambunctiously lysergic inspired clothes I've ever seen. She was carrying a small pair of drums under-arm, which would go on to produce of the biggest sounds I've ever heard.
Hebden Bridge folk are great lover lovers of all things green (to be read as 'Eco- friendly'), so I couldn't resist one of my usual visits to the aptly named Green Shop, which sits in between the river and canal. From this shop it is possible to buy an array of 'green' things, ranging from Eco- friendly shampoo, washing agents and floor cleaners. All of the former is to be dispensed by oneself from large kegs with taps on the sides. The contents can be ascertained by reading the crudely handwritten text that has been scrawled on the sides.
It is also possible to buy pencils that have been fashioned out of roughly cut sections of tree branch. I am at a loss to explain how the graphite is inserted, but I guess it's probably better not to ask. I think it's a safe bet that they're not home made.
Nowadays, industry has all but ceased in Hebden. I don't know how much revenue the Green Shop generates, but I would doubt that it's anything to make a song and dance about. Hebden Bridge is an ideal refuge for artists, writers, visionaries and the like who come to Hebden to live the dream, as it were.
With it's culturally diversity, the night- life can be highly recommended, especially the locally renowned Trades Club which often plays host to world class jazz, blues and world music. In the summer, Hebden Bridge holds highly acclaimed arts and music festivals that are best appreciated on a fine evening in the height of summer. With festival spectacles ranging from fire- eaters, to all manner of juggling acts, the festival nights also see street parades and free- form improvisational music gatherings featuring the some of the best percussionists and vocalists. When one is suitably imbibed with good, dark beer and taking in the ambience of these activities, it is easy to liken Hebden to a low- key New Orleans. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourselves
By Alex Clark May 2005, Hackwriters.com