The Bridge Parties
Why Hebden Bridge? Why not Hebden Bridges?
Imagine the debate when these questions are taken seriously and folks from here and there start taking sides. The One Bridge party versus the Multi-bridge faction.
The seeds of this debate are already sown. Progressives versus the traditionalists.
The Multi-bridge faction would claim: easy access to the hillsides requires bridges galore over canal, rivers, railway and other roads.
How democratic this would be, to open up the area for the masses rather than leave it as an inspiring landscape with limited access providing “an enhanced experience for the discerning few”.
Make all the new bridges wide enough for motor vehicles that will be parked on special car park bridges, spacious platforms built over rivers and the canal.
The One Bridge party’s case would be based on the need to conserve the town, not as it is but how it used to be.
To restore it to its quiet and peaceful heritage with just one bridge too narrow for a car to cross, (an end to motoring pollution), to create a unique location to be treasured for its quirkiness.
The aqueduct to be retained, also the railway bridges to enable commuters (carless of course with horses) to have the privilege of living in this one-bridge paradise.
We might expect the shakers and movers in the Multi-Bridge faction to be big business interests from further away, with undue influence on the amateur Calderdale councillors in Halifax or, perhaps, their more remote equivalents in a future regional set-up based in Leeds or Manchester.
Surely their best interests would not be served by opening up this little town with a multi bridge development. Why would they want to encourage another modern attraction to compete with their already over developed out-of-town all-must visit creations?
It follows that the multi bridge stalwart are likely to be local get richer quicker fraternity who see progress as making the town like everywhere else but quirkier.
On the other hand we might expect the One Bridge party to be home grown.
But what if influential out-of-towners, longing for somewhere different to go without a car, see this as a golden opportunity to make it their very own other Eden, set in true tranquillity?
This conflict could continue on and off for decades, even centuries, and go down in history as the second battle of Hebden Bridge. In 500 years time historians will research the Hebden Bridge Times’ letter pages, to unravel the ebb and flow of frustrated ambitions.
Of course if one of the groups should succeed, research would switch to the news pages for reports of the jubilant festivities that would have taken place to celebrate the opening of each new bridge, or to commemorate the destruction of each old bridge, bar the one and only Hebden Bridge.
It is unlikely that I will be around to participate in that research and I do not anticipate responding to the challenge of writing a thousand words to celebrate the bridge in 2510.