Hebden Township Historical Data

From the Hull Daily Mail: 17 September 1888

This is an extract from a series of articles published in the Hull Daily Mail in August and September 1888 recounting a walking holiday in the Dales, the author of which is unknown. The walk started at Bolton Abbey station, and over the next few days the area between Bolton Abbey, Grassington, and Skipton was explored. The description of Hebden is interesting in that the writer makes clear that the new school and the newly developed Main Street, which had been built a mere dozen years before, did not match up to his expectations of how a Dales village should look which had probably been influenced by his visits to Bolton Abbey, Appletreewick, and Burnsall. He seems to have been unaware that the developments were actually a huge improvement over what had been there before!

Banner of the Hull Daily Mail

Up to the present our holiday has been favoured with charming summer-like weather, but on the morning after our arrival at Hebden, we awoke find the rain pouring down in torrents, and the outlook generally dreary as it is possible for one to conceive. The hills covered with a thick mist, which can almost be felt, whilst the rain is coming down with force sufficient to get through the thickest clothing and drench one to the skin in a few moments. For two days this kind of thing continues, and we feel as if fate had, indeed, been hard upon us. Hebden, or the “high valley” as its name implies, is the most dreary of all the villages in this neighbourhood, and there is literally nothing to see in the place. For though an old township, it gives the casual visitor, unacquainted with its history, an idea that it is an intruder upon the antiquity which is everywhere around us, and the old time beauty of the locality. Even the church is modern, and the builder with his latter-day notions of house-building, seems to have made a mark of the "high valley" village whereupon to lay his desecrating hand. Hebden has not got the stucco building yet, but if the signs of the time indicate anything, the jerry builder will soon be its track. Here, then, surrounded all sides by ancient villages, old-fashioned houses and customs, and all that reminds you of a former age, lies this village, old undoubtedly in itself, but divested of every vestige of evidence which should prove its age, and supplied by modern accessories which fail to catch the eye of the visitor and cause it to left in the cold. Hebden, with its nineteenth century buildings and its modern fashions, is decidedly out of place in such a lovely district as Craven, and wants removing to a spot nearer a town where its modernness would be in harmony with its surroundings It is not our intention to say much about Hebden, but as there is a two days’ stay before us in the place, it will not be a waste of time to learn something the Hebden of the past, leaving the Hebden of the present to take care of itself.

At the extreme eastern end of the valley there originally stood what was known the Low Manor House. It was erected at the top of a steep declivity, but at the present time there is scarcely a remnant of the old building left. In fact, the only traces remaining of its whereabouts is a dry fish-pond, in character similar to the ponds attached to manor houses in Roman Catholic times for providing a ready supply of fish on fast days. Immediately below the hall is Thurskell, or Thorskill, one of the largest of several springs, concerning the possession of which Hebdenites pride themselves upon. The spring was dedicated to the God of Thunder by the Druids. Its situation is on the north side of what is known as the "Craven fault." Of the church we need take little notice, for it is a modern building, the foundation stone having been laid just 48 years ago. Service is on Sunday afternoons only, the vicar of Linton, in whose parish the village is, having no curate, conducting the services. The Nonconformists are much better looked after, as they have a nice little Wesleyan chapel and frequent services. One can scarcely expect to hear that the Church is making much headway in Hebden, with such a system in vogue; and you are not surprised, The Church is looked upon as an institution which has to be put up with, but which is nevertheless distasteful to the people, and not required by them. The services are poorly attended, whereas the chapel is always well filled. So much for Hebden.

On the Friday morning we wipe the dust of Hebden — or, rather, the mud — from off our feet, and prepare for a ramble along the side of the Wharfe to Grassington. We go down through the village, and on our way see the wheel of another disused lead mine going round. Inquiries procure the information that an attempt had been made to get the lead which was known to in the district, but after spending a vast sum of money the promoters had been obliged to abandon the scheme. At length you come down to the Wharfe at the foot of the Suspension Bridge we noticed on Monday when viewing this part of the river from the Burnsall side. We turn to the right, and taking the path by the side of the river we are in a most enchanting spot. The river here runs peacefully through valley, and on the side we are walking splendid trees, bowing in the breezes, and fanning us with their leaves, shelter us at the same time from the fierce rays of the sun.