News and reports
The Society organises a winter programme from September to March

Midgley Pace Egg Play 2019 on Good Friday, 19 April. The group are all ex Calder High School students who, on their own initiative, have continued to perform the Midgley version of the play for the past few years. A group has been formed to support the players and to ensure its continuity in the future.

Life and Death in Hebden Bridge 1851- 1901 with speaker Anne Mealia. For those searching for clues about their family history, census returns, which are collected every ten years and are now available to search on-line, have provided a rich source of information. But the records can also give a picture of a community. Anne Mealia, a genealogist and historical researcher, shared the results of her painstaking and detailed analysis of records for Hebden Bridge from 1851 to 1901. Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Remembering Peterloo by Alan Fowler. A sunny Monday on August 16th, 1819 in Manchester. A peaceful, lively meeting of 60,000 men, women and children, calling for ‘manhood suffrage’ and political reform. Cavalry charging with sabres drawn. By the end of the day, 15 were dead, including 4 women and a child of two, and as many as 600 injured. Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Woodlands of the South Pennines – their industrial history  For modern day residents and visitors to the Calder Valley our woodlands are largely a place of leisure, serving as an escape from the industrial towns, but as Hywel Lewis told the Hebden Bridge Local History Society, their history shows how closely they were integrated in the industrial economic life of this area. Wednesday, 6 March 2019

The history of farming in the industrial Pennines - Does it seem like a contradiction to speak on the topic of 'farming in the industrial Pennines'? That was the question put to members of the audience at a meeting of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society by Dr Stephen Caunce, formerly senior lecturer in history with the University of Central Lancashire. Thursday, 21 February 2019

Milestones and waymarkers in the South Pennines As we walk along country lanes, bridle paths and canal tow-paths we perhaps don’t always notoice the waymarkers and milestones that guided our forebears. When we do, we see their idiosyncracies: place names and distances carefully or crudely carved in the stone; the variations in shape and size; the neat little cuffed hands with a finger pointing us on our way.
Monday, 28 January 2019

Lost Houses of the South Pennines There was standing room only when artist Kate Lycett came to speak to Hebden Bridge Local History Society about the stories behind her hugely successful  paintings of the Lost Houses of the South Pennines. As an artist settled in Hebden Bridge she found that many grand local houses had disappeared almost without trace, and set about searching the archives for documents and photographs that would give her enough detail to create paintings which celebrated their individual styles and moods. Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Breweries and licensed trade in the Upper Calder Valley from 1800 Peter Robinson returned to Hebden Bridge Local History Society to tell the story of the inns and beerhouses of the area during the period of industrialisation and population growth after 1800. The development of steam power meant that the factories and workforce were concentrated in the valley bottoms instead of the hill tops and demand for new drinking places also grew.   Friday, 21 December 2018

All our own work: the story of the fustian co-operative at Nutclough Mill The Nutclough Mill in Hebden Bridge was the home of a daring and visionary venture in industrial production: a worker-run co-operative which ran, at a profit, for almost fifty years and achieved national and international fame. Andrew Bibby, local author and member of the society, spoke to the Society about how this successful model of production was established and about its role in changing and shaping the character of Hebden Bridge. Saturday, 1 December 2018

Anne Lister: the life and loves of a local lady - With the newly filmed story of Anne Lister about to launch on TV, it was an appropriate time for Hebden Bridge Local History Society to hear something of her story from a long serving volunteer at Shibden Hall whose talking tours bring its most famous resident to life. Monday, 19 November 2018

'People All Full of Business': This was how Daniel Defoe described what he saw as he passed through the Calder Valley in the early 1700s. In their talk at Hebden Bridge Local History Society, Sheila Graham and Barbara Hall showed how they had used the wills and probate records of residents to find out more about the people who lived in Halifax at that time.

The Whittakers and the Holme at Cliviger Roger Frost, former teacher and a writer on local history, spoke to Hebden Bridge Local History Society about the area of Cliviger near Burnley, and specifically about the Holme, residence of the Whittaker family. Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Changing Times, Changing Heroines Amy Binns, lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire and author of Valley of a Hundred Chapels, asked the audience at Hebden Bridge Local History Society meeting to write down their nominations women they thought of as heroines. There was quite a range. Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The Alan Petford Memorial Lecture 2018 Township boundaries and commons disputes in the South Pennines. To the eye of the average walker, the moorland hills around Hebden Bridge might seem miles away from dispute and confrontation, but research carried out by Dr Nigel Smith, tells how disagreements over the location of township boundaries reached a peak of litigation in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Norman Conquest of Yorkshire: Dr Paul Dalton spoke about the resistance to Norman rule in Yorkshire in the years that followed the Battle of Hastings. In Yorkshire, William was seen not to have kept his promises, and the imposition of heavy taxes was resented. York itself was described by a contemporary chronicler as being peopled by ‘wild men… seething with discontent’. Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Seven Centuries of Recorded Floods in the Calder Valley Thirty people struggled through snow and blizzards to attend a talk on the subject of floods. Nick Wilding, local filmmaker, spoke about ‘Seven Centuries of Floods in the Calder Valley’ at a meeting of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society. Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Updated: 21 Feb 2018 The Midgley Pace Egg Play - at risk of not being performed this year. Rodney Collinge, who directed the play for almost 20 years when he was teaching at Calder High, proposes to direct the performance again, but needs players to perform in it.

Damn Your Eyes! John Billingsley told the History Society how the 'Halifax houses', farm and clothiers' houses of 17th Century Calder Valley, often have decorative architectural details resembling the 'evil eye' - to ward off bad luck. Read more

The people of the parish of Halifax 1539 to 1670 with speaker David Cant - Up to half the people of England died during the Black Death of 1348; it took two centuries before the population returned to the same number. Single events such as this can have dramatic results, so the group set out to use parish records to investigate what had happened in the parish of Halifax (roughly equivalent to modern day Calderdale.) Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Women and Girls in the Upper Calder Valley: Recognition, Resilience and Reward in  World War 1 Hebden Bridge Local History Society member Julia Maybury was inspired by the activities planned to commemorate the centenary of the First World War to explore the roles of women and girls at the time, searching Hebden Bridge and Halifax newspapers, listening to some fascinating oral history recordings and using the evidence of old photographs to discover stories that have often been disregarded. Sunday, 14 January 2018

From Crime Scene to Holiday Camp: Stories of Hawdon Hall -  the first thing that Freda Kelsall had to contend with when she purchased the property near Hardcastle Crags, was the tangle of names that attached to the place: Howden or Howdon – Hole, Hoyle or Hall? But the house also came with many stories that have fascinated Freda ever since, most famously the Hawdon Hall murder.

Twenty thousand descend on Hardcastle Crags: David Taylor, using images from the Pennine Horizons Digital Archive, conducted a virtual walk for Hebden Bridge Local History Society, following the route taken by visitors who arrived in Hebden Bridge by rail, and then walked to and around Hardcastle Crags. Over a three-day Whitsun holiday weekend in 1897 twenty thousand people enjoyed a day out in the Crags. Sunday, 26 November 2017

The Withins Farms Historian Steven Wood told how, when the publishers of Wuthering Heights were wanting to produce an illustrated version of the book in 1873, a sketch of the site that was included showing that it was the setting, not the building called Top Withins, that provided Emily Brontë with her inspiration. Thursday, 16 November 2017

How the hippies shaped Hebden Bridge A packed meeting of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society were taken back to a time easily within the memories of most of the audience by Chris Ratcliffe and Jenny Slaughter, telling of communal living, revolutionary politics, alternative lifestyles and more. Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Todmorden Old Pub Trail - As she told the Hebden Bridge Local History Society, Barbara Rudman's passion for the history of twentieth century pubs led her to explore the stories of the pubs in Todmorden and how they reflect social change. For centuries drinking ale was the healthy option compared with unclean water, and most farmers would  be brewing for the family and neighbourhood. The first commercial ale houses were often farms on the tops, such as the Sportsman's at Kebcote, where thirsty travellers on the packhorse routes sought rest and refreshment. Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Memories from Hebden Bridge Pharmacies The apothecary’s bottles, jars and scales on display at the season’s first meeting of Hebden Bridge Local History Society seemed redolent of an ancient craft; in fact they were an essential part of the working life of long time Society member Linda Powell, who began her career in the Co-op Pharmacy in Hebden Bridge in the 1960s. Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Unity Plaque Unveiled at Hebden Bridge Town Hall Hebden Bridge has a long history of involvement in The Cooperative Movement and this was remembered recently when the Mayor, Pat Fraser, unveiled a plaque in the Greenwood Room at the Town Hall. The Greenwood Room had recently been refurbished by the Community Association. Joseph Greenwood, after whom the room is named, was a founder member and long-term manager of the Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Company. Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The Artisan Naturalists: Speaker Rob Trueblood told the History Society about self-taught working men - e.g., handloom weavers, shoemaker and tin worker - who became experts in Botany. 29 March 2017

Be thankful you can flush. A tale of the Great Stink! Speaker Tony Boughton gave Hebden Bridge Local History Society a talk about the problems caused by the rapid growth of urban areas in the 19th century Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Exhibition: How the Hippies changed Hebden Bridge - An exhibition organised by the Hebden Bridge Local History Society aims to show how those who moved into our area in the 1970s - the locals called them ‘hippies’ - kick-started the cultural renaissance which is today so Hebden Bridge. The Exhibition runs from Monday, 6 March for 5 weeks at Hebden Bridge Town Hall.

Great Uncle Percy: Inventor of ‘Cats’ Eyes’
Glenda Shaw shared the story of Percy Shaw, inventor of the reflecting road studs we call ‘Cats’ Eyes’, with Hebden Bridge Local History Society, and showed how he became a ‘Yorkshire icon’. She spoke with obvious fondness and admiration for her great uncle and his achievements, joking that he was responsible for ‘her 15 minutes of fame’. Wednesday, 1 March 2017

People Puzzles and Earning a Living:  
Mike Crawford gave the The Alan Petford Memorial Lecture 2017. The work of local historian and educator Alan Petford is still much missed, but his legacy is very much alive in the flowering of seeds planted by him, such as the project to transcribe and make available the wills and other probate documents from the parish of Halifax at the end of the seventeenth century. Monday, 13 February 2017

Mytholmroyd: the development of a Pennine village
Rodney Collinge was both a pupil and a teacher at Calder High School, and now as he looks out on those familiar hills, he likes to imagine the people who have walked those tracks in the past. In a comprehensive talk to Hebden Bridge Local History Society, Rodney described  how developments from the Ice Age to the end of the 19th century have left their marks on the area.
Read report 31 January 2017

Did I see Marilyn?
Allan Stuttard gave a talk on his time as a soldier during the Korean War. It was 1952 and conscription was the lot of all 18 old boys, and Allan Stuttard was eager to leave his Hebden Bridge factory work and see something of the world.
Read report 19 January 2017

A local view of Carols and Christmas
Diana Monahan gave a talk to the History Society on carols, tracing them back to medieval times, when they were frequently accompanied by joyful circle dances.
Read report Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Women, down tools! The women machinists' strike in Hebden Bridge
Andrew Bibby told the recent History Society meeting how, exactly a hundred years ago, in November 1916, at the height of World War One, women garment makers of Hebden Bridge came out on strike.
Read report 30 November 2016

Traditional Farmhouses and Buildings in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Pennines
The traditional buildings of his local area have fascinated Kevin Illingworth for many years and the large audience which gathered at a recent meeting of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society obviously shared his enthusiasm.
Read report   16 November 2016

AGM & Members Research Reports
Gracie Fields, transpennine crossings and industrial use of woodlands were topics covered at the recent meeting of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society
Read report
2 November 2016

Buried Alive? Past Funeral Customs in Calderdale
David Glover, local historian and writer, indulged a fascination with the macabre with his talk to Hebden Bridge Local History Society with an eclectic mix of tales of deaths and burials.
Read report
12 October 2016

History Societies Unite in aid of Flood Relief Fund. Part of Calder Valley Heritage Day on Saturday 22nd October at Methodist Church, Market Street, Hebden Bridge. Hebden Bridge, Cragg Vale and Mytholmroyd Historical Societies have come together to organise a joint venture, the proceeds of which are to go to the Flood Relief Fund. Read more

The Brontë family
Isobel Stirk told the Local History Society that two hundred years after the birth of Charlotte Brontë a fascination with the lives of all three sisters remains as strong as ever.
Read report
28 September 2016

Joseph Wood, a Yorkshire Quaker
Pamela Cooksey told the Local History Society of his many notebooks which included accounts of his visits to the Calder Valley in the late 18th Century.
Read report
23 March 2016

Calderdale Conscientious Objectors in the First World War
1914 had seen a kind of war fever, where any anti-war sentiment would be howled down as unpatriotic. John Rhodes, who has made a study of this period, told Society members about what happened to those who opposed the war and those who sought exemption from military service on grounds of conscience.
Read report
9 March 2016

Calder Valley Connections to Magna Carta - Alan Petford Memorial Lecture
David Cant explained to the audience at the Local History Society, the charter was basically a peace treaty, broken within months.
Read report
24 Feb 2016

Railway Roundabout
Paul Kenny, by profession a signal-man (including at Hebden Bridge) is also a keen photographer, and shared his slides and his stories with the Hebden Bridge Local History Society.
Read report
10 Feb 2016

Restoring a Unique Organ
At this recent talk, Peter Jeffery explained how a special organ came to be restored during the time when he was vicar of Cornholme.
Read report
31 Jan 2016

Tales along the Packhorse Way
At this recent talk, John Billingsley, author of six books on local folklore, told the Local History Society of places passed along the Long Causeway, a 'bleak and comfortless road.'
Read report
18 Jan 2016

Vanishing for the Vote
Jill Liddington told the Local History Society of the moment in history when, in 1911, suffragettes urged women, still without the vote at that time, to boycott the census.
Read report
9 Dec 2015

Widdop and the Shackletons
John Shackleton told the Local History Society how his family history search led him to the the remote hill-top settlement of Widdop.
Read report
1 Dec 2015

The History of Calrec: part 2:
Local History Society report with Stephen Jagger who told how the company learnt from mistakes, takeovers and technological challenges to establish a leading brand of audio mixing desks. Read more 11 Nov 2015

What's in a Name:
Local History Society meeting report with speakers Keith Stansfield and Barbara Atack. An insight into local dialects and surnames of the Calder Valley. Read report   28 Oct 2015

The Lost Kingdom of Elmet
Local History Society meeting report with speakers Keith Stansfield and Barbara Atack. An insight into local dialects and surnames of the Calder Valley. Read report   14 Nov 2015

When Oxford University Came to Hebden Bridge
When the Nutclough Mill was a co-op, it hosted an annual series of lectures, given by Oxford University dons and others on history, politics, literature and science. Talk by Andrew Bibby
Read more  23 Sept 2015


WitchcraftGoing to War

Mike Crawford's book, Going to War, tells of the first weeks of The Great War and the experiences of Calderdale people during that critical time: people at home and people in uniform.

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Alan PetfordAlan Petford: The untimely death of local historian Alan Petford, on 11th February 2015, is a devastating loss for the many local history groups and organisations he has worked alongside. Alan was a long-time friend of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society.

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Spring 2016 newsletter

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Family History

The group runs a popular programme of workshops and drop-in sessions at the Birchcliffe Centre

Churn Milk Joan

Upper Calderdale's suitability for the preservation of local cultural tradition is nowhere shown as strongly as in its wealth of folk tales about places, many of which are still being passed on by word of mouth.

Midgley Moor

For some years now a small group of friends has been exploring the evidence for prehistoric activity in the South Pennines.