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Towns of Calderdale: Hebden Bridge - a brief history

Hebden Bridge was a farming community dating at least to the time of the Saxons, although into the Norman period, with sheep-rearing the chief occupation in the area, it remained less significant than the hillside settlements of Heptonstall and Cragg Vale.

Manufacturing thrived in the area as early as the 15th Century , based on domestic hand-loom weaving , producing rough woollen cloths called 'kerseys' . With industrialisation, the need for water in the production process led to the building of mills alongside the river and Hebden Bridge, in the valley, grew rapidly, becoming steadily more significant than the hillside villages. Industry was not limited to woollen textiles but also included the production of cotton cloth, and there were also silk mills, dye-works and iron foundries.

The Rochdale Canal, opened in 1798, vastly improved transportation to and from the area and ensured the progress of industry. In 1841, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway opened its line through the Calder Valley, further improving transport links. As the population grew, housing, churches and public buildings appeared, to meet the needs of the expanded community.

Hebden Bridge Urban District Council was constituted in 1894, comprising parts of the townships of Erringden, Heptonstall, Stansfield and Wadsworth. In 1937, this became part of the bigger Hebden Royd Urban District, which in turn became part of Calderdale in 1974.

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