The town offers a wealth of independent shops that sustain Hebden Bridges artistic heritage, from the buildings themselves to their unique, often handmade goods.
Transporting regional talent across the Pennines, where better to start than The Book Case? It’s cool looking in, but ponder as long as we did and you’ll find a wealth of craft books, matte rebound classics, historic guides and shelves filled with local poetry. The shop runs frequent poetry to inspire new writers. It’s wonderful to see a book shop that clearly won’t be moved any time soon, stocking leading titles and lesser known voices in harmony.
Spirals Fairtrade sits quietly up the street, showing off an extensive collection of gardening accessories, cooking tools, ladies clothing and children’s gifts. The second floor is a gallery retreat, with modern animal illustrations ruling its walls and blankets draped in every available space. Wherever you most need a pop of colour, you can do so in support of the world. Its neighbour, The Heart Gallery, brings modernity (and pink) to Hebden’s art scene. From the abstract prints of Yorkshire artist Sarah Harris, to the mesmerising watercolours of Kate Lycett, their current Craggs and Fells Exhibition celebrates the surrounding landscape.
Their ‘Just One Card’ scheme encourages visitors to make any purchase they can to maintain independent art galleries, and with such a choice of greeting cards, pottery and handmade earrings at prices that don’t match the art status, that purchase is set to become a few.
There are few counties that can boast the same diversity of music as Yorkshire, and this stands true in our market towns. Considering the accountability of places like Belgrave and Brudnell, it may come as a surprise that Hebden Bridge’s Trade Club has been deemed as the UK’s best small venue by Q magazine. With names such as Patti Smith, Laura Marling and The Staves, Hebden Bridge has certainly been a platform for women of folk, whilst still attracting performances from George Ezra, Frank Turner, Everything Everything and Slaves. We sense that Leeds may have competition on the rock front.
Starting life as part of the town’s textile boom in the 1920s, the club was rescued from disuse by the local Labour party in the 80s, starting the trend for housing small businesses. Meeting our expectations, The Picture House has been refitted with its original 1920s decor and screens art house, foreign and cult films next to Hollywood releases. The 1314 Mill became the Innovation cafe and gift shop (the ll Mulino Italian shares the building with them, going far beyond a good pizza). However the Town Hall, once an 1897 fire station, is home to the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival. Hosting vintage film screenings and a performance night led by female performers, you certainly don’t have to fork out for a Leeds festival ticket. With illustrated talks confronting Britain’s social inequalities and an appearance from Carol Ann Duffy in July, the events combine literature, music, and politics with the artistic flair that only Hebden Bridge could for the past 25 years.
However the Town Hall, once an 1897 fire station, is home to the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival. Hosting vintage film screenings and a performance night led by female performers, you certainly don’t have to fork out for a Leeds festival ticket. With illustrated talks confronting Britain’s social inequalities and an appearance from Carol Ann Duffy in July, the events combine literature, music, and politics with the artistic flair that only Hebden Bridge could for the past 25 years.
What’s a round-up from Independent Life without some mention of the food? Something Sweet was our top pick (and mix) of the best sweets around. Joint-owner Les chatted away to us about the shop’s personal history too. Following the dramatic 2015 flooding, the shop’s regular school children raised an impressive sum to keep Something Sweet open when multiple businesses were forced to close, and it’s not hard to see why. Imported Belgian chocolates, speciality Yorkshire fudge made on site and an enormous quantity of traditional sweets explained why Friday school-closing time is the shop’s busiest hour.
Onwards to the famous Rochdale Canal, at its most peaceful in the evening sun, we unearthed Hebden’s coffee shop culture- with cycling, that is. A particularly pretty, and according to the locals, welcoming café that specialises in teatime cakes.
Hebden Bridge gives the impression of being fit for a summer holiday, but why wait until then? With a bustling art scene and a small shopping galore, unexpected in the tranquil location, this is independent Yorkshire at its best.