As it was such a nice day on Good Friday, and we were both off work with it being a bank holiday, Christine and I paid a visit to Hebden Bridge. We’ve been there many times over the years, however, this was actually the first time we’d been in almost two years.
In June and July of 2012, the upper Calder Valley was badly affected by floods. Whilst it didn’t cause too many problems here in Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge was hit hard, with large parts of the town underwater. This included the main road through the town and the main shopping streets.
It’s taken the town quite a long time to get itself back together again, so we were pleased to see it looking rather resplendent when we visited last week. There were almost no empty shops; though some hadn’t re-opened following the floods, others had taken their place. And the town was bustling with people taking advantage of a day off work and some nice sunshine.
Hebden Bridge features on this year’s Tour de France route. The Tour de France has its ‘Grand Départ’ in different places across Europe each year, and Yorkshire won the bid for 2014, so the first two days of the course are in Yorkshire. Riders will pass through Hebden Bridge before tackling a long, sustained incline further down the Calder Valley at Cragg Vale. Hopefully the weather will be equally nice as it was when we visited, and the local economy will get a nice boost.
Speaking of which, there is large amount of disquiet in the town about a proposed Sainsbury’s supermarket opening nearby. What makes Hebden Bridge so special is that the vast majority of shops are independently run, including a number of clothing boutiques, delicatessens and craft shops. The worry is that a big supermarket like Sainsbury’s would adversely affect business in these small shops. Many shops had posters in their windows about it and there’s a web site encouraging people to object to the planning application.
Finally, as today is Easter Monday, there is the annual duck race, where hundreds of rubber ducks are dropped into the river. Each duck is sponsored, and there are prizes for the first ducks to cross the finish line. Again, the local community are strongly behind this with many shops having duck-themed displays in their windows.
Hebden Bridge is always a lovely place to visit and it’s a shame that we haven’t had chance to drop by recently. Apart from the looming potential of a new supermarket, I’m glad the town is doing well.