Hebden Township Historical Data


These began as Facebook postings on the Hebden village community page, but have been modified to include further information that has been contributed by locals. Thank you all...

  1. Milestone - c. 1700
  2. The Paraffin House - before 1846
  3. Hebden's bridge markers c. 1827
  4. Hebden's boundary stones - c. 1829
  5. Mossy Moor Reservoir leats - c. 1855
  6. The Miner's Bridge - c. 1857
  7. Edge Side Quarry - 1857
  8. The Powder House - c. 1860s
  9. Water troughs on Main Street - 1862
  10. The Post Office and Clarendon c. 1875
  11. School turret clock mechanism c. 1875
  12. Horse and cart outside the Post Office c. 1908
  13. Charabancs outside the Post Office c.1912
  14. Hebden Parish Council versus the Stobbs brothers - 1920
  15. Children's playground - 1930
  16. Longshaw Level and the Craven Water Board c. 1965


Milestone near Rosemary Barn
Milestone near Rosemary Barn. Click for larger version

This fine milestone, now relocated close to Rosemary Barn, is probably a survivor of the pre-turnpike route to Grassington. It may have been erected some time after 1697 when it became the responsibility of the township's Surveyor of Highways to provide signposts at cross-highways and on the moors.

Chris Foster is to be congratulated on the very fine photograph which manages to pick out the detail.

The Paraffin House

The Paraffin House on the corner of Main Street
The Paraffin House. Click for larger version

The Paraffin House is a familiar sight, and not usually given a second thought. But it is not without interest, being the sole survivor of the Main Street from before its redevelopment in the 1860s. It is marked on the 1846 Tithe Map as a 'pig cote', and so is well over 170 years old. At the time it belonged to Daniel Bowdin, who also owned that half of the Bridge House complex which adjoins the junction. Daniel was a farmer and grocer, and the grocery business was built up over the next 60 years by his son Ralph into a large general store and corn merchants selling stuff as diverse as lobsters and black powder. When it and Bridge House were sold to Jeremiah Stockdale in 1906, it was described as a petroleum store. In the 1960s it was used by the Bonds of the Post Office to store paraffin, and later it was used by Hargreaves to store fuel for their coaches. It still contains an ancient fuel tank.

Bridge Markers

Hebden is fortune in having two sets of bridge markers - one associated with the main road bridge, and the other with the Brook Street bridge. Bridge markers go back to the day when most roads were maintained by the wapentakes - the then unit of local government. Major bridges, however, were the responsibility of the West Riding. The markers delineated the limit of the responsibility of the West Riding.

When the new bridge was built in 1827, the West Riding erected bridge markers 300' from the centre of the bridge to mark the limit of their responsibility. One is obvious, and may be seen on the grass opposite the Clarendon, being an upright shaped stone with a cross on it. This had to be relocated when the road was straightened in 1969. The other is on the verge above the track down to Thors Ghyll. It is similar, but is less easy to see as it is being swallowed by a sycamore. They are both marked on the 1846 Tithe Map.

Hebden Main Bridge bridge marker - outside The Clarendon
Hebden Main Bridge bridge marker - outside The Clarendon. Click for larger version

The Brook Street bridge markers are made of cast iron, and are both in plain sight. One is on the corner of Bridge House, and the other is on the other side of the beck by the barn. Their date is unknown, but they have been put up as a consequence of the 1803 Bridge Act, although they do not appear on the 1846 Tithe Map. The bridge itself was built in 1757. They have recently been painted white by the Parish Council, with the lettering picked out in black.

Brook Street Bridge Marker - outside Bridge House
Brook Street bridge marker - outside Bridge House. Click for larger version

Hebden's Boundary Stones

The wall built about 1600 to separate Hebden from Grassington stopped at the top of Bolton Gill, and the location of the boundary between there and beyond was to become a subject of contention, especially so because of the importance of the underlying lead ore resources. One map drawn in the 1780s showed the boundary running from Blea Gill to Tag Bail Hill, with other maps showing the boundary well to the west. In 1808, the Hebden freeholders put up boundary stones between Blea Beck and Bolton Gill running over Sandhaw, which were soon pulled down by the Duke of Devonshire's agents.

In 1829 a pragmatic solution was agreed - the boundary would follow the Duke's Low Water Course from Bolton Gill to Blea Gill, and from there up to Henstone Band. It is obvious from looking at the boundary on the map that Hebden lost a lot of land. To mark it, a set of seven fine boundary stones were emplaced across the moor to Blea Gill. Unfortunately, a wall has since been built on the Hebden side, and some have sunk into the bog, so they are not always that easy to find. The fine example below, however, is the first at the head of Bolton Gill, and the 'H' and 'G' for 'Hebden' and 'Grassington' can be easily seen.

Hebden - Grassington boundary stone at head of Bolton Gill
Hebden - Grassington boundary stone at head of Bolton Gill. Click for larger version

From Blea Beck the boundary was marked with posts, except near Henstone Band where three more boundary stones were emplaced. This one marks the north-west corner of the township at Henstone Band.

Hebden - Grassington boundary stone at Henstone Band
Hebden - Grassington boundary stone at Henstone Band. Click for larger version

Mossy Moor Reservoir Leats

The upper leat on Bolton Haw Side
The upper leat on Bolton Haw Side. Click for larger version

It is believed that Mossy Moor Reservoir was originally built by Joseph Mason in about 1850 to help maintain a constant supply of water to power the textile mill. It was probably originally fed just by runoff from the moor. In the early 1850s, however, the Hebden Moor Mining Company required a considerable amount of power to drive the lifts and pumps in the Bolton Gill Engine Shaft, and for the dressing floor just below. Their solution required considerable engineering and investment, but it resulted in the last word in reusable energy. They built a system of leats, or water channels, over 2.3 km long that took water all the way from behind the Bolton Engine Shaft to Mossy Moor Reservoir, and then returned it at a lower level to where some of it was used to power a waterwheel on Bolton Haw Side which in turn provided power to the engine shaft, and the rest of which was taken to the dressing floor on the level below engine shaft. It all eventually finished up back in Bolton Gill.

The Mossy Moor Reservoir leat system
The Mossy Moor Reservoir leat system. Click for larger version

In the above Google Earth image north is to the left. Bolton Gill engine shaft is on the left and Mossy Moor Reservoir is on the right. The top red line shows the path taken by the upper leat that carried water from Bolton Gill to the reservoir, and the mauve line shows the path taken by the leat carrying water from the reservooir outlet channel to the waterwheel and dressing floor. The lower blue line shows the leat that fed the waterwheel, and the upper blue line shows a short-cut from the upper leat to the waterwheel. The reason for the offset in the two lines is that it is thought that the waterwheel was moved. The orange line shows the tail race from the waterwheel returning the water to Bolton Gill via Bolton Haw Side Tunnel. From above the water wheel, the lower leat (mauve) divides into two. One drops water directly into the tailrace, and the other takes it round the corner to the engine shaft dressing floor.

The upper leat on Bolton Haw Side
Interior of the lower leat on Bolton Haw Side. Click for larger version

A considerable amount of effort was put into developing the leat system, and much of it is still intact and in many places obvious on the ground. Usually is was constructed as a slab-covered stone-walled channel. Occasionally, because of the topography, it was necessary to bury it, but it can still be traced as a natural line through the fields, and occasionally they just dug ditches. Almost all of it can still be followed without difficulty, although much of the section running along the valley to the crushing plant is no longer visible although enough of it remains to show the line it took. It is not obvious where this section turns into the valley.

It is not known for how long the leat system was in use, but only the top leat is marked on the mining company's 1866 map of its infrastructure.

The Miner's Bridge

The Miner's Bridge
The Miner's Bridge. Click for larger version

When the Hebden Moor Mining Company began to exploit the lead veins of Bolton Gill in 1853, there was no track up Hebden Gill, the only access to the site from Hebden being up the Raikes to the left of Cruck Barn at Hole Bottom onto the moorland pasture at the top, and then back down towards Bolton Gill.

Better communications were required, and in 1855 the company improved access from Hebden to Hole Bottom, which including cutting through the moraine at Scale Haw to ease the gradient.

However, they needed access to the other side of the beck from Hole Bottom to enable them to drive a track up the gill. Unfortunately, the small piece of intervening land was owned by the Duke of Devonshire, and sensing an opportunity, his agent at first offered to sell it for an extortionate £50, which the company declined.

By July 1857, the price had fallen to £15, and it was purchased. This enabled them to build the beautiful and iconic Miners’ Bridge, and hence drive their track up to the mine.

This photograph, probably dating from about 1890, is in David Joy’s collection.

Edge Side Quarry

Prior to the enclosure of the moors in 1857, the residents of Hebden had the right to use the moors as a source of stone for their personal use, and the Surveyors of the Highways for Hebden also had the right to remove stone for repairing the roads. Those rights were withdrawn by the Enclosure Act, and instead the village was allotted two area where quarrying of stone was permitted - Care Scar Quarry and Edge Side Quarry. The former is the area above Hole Bottom, and the latter is opposite Edge House. The grazing of the land thus alloted was granted to other award holders.

In the words of the Enclosure Award:

"And I declare that I have set out and do hereby set out allot and award unto the Surveyors of the Highways of the said Township of Hebden and their successors for ever but subject to the provision and allotment of the Herbage as hereinafter specified - All those pieces and parcels of Ground numbered 30 and 54 on the said Map and containing by admeasurement Fourteen Acres and two roods And I direct that such Allotment piece or parcel of ground shall be appropriated and used as a Quarry for supplying Stone and Gravel for the repairs of the Roads and Ways within the said Township and for the use of all the Owners of Lands in the said Township for the purpose of getting stone for the building and repairs of their Houses Fences and Drains in the said Township"

Rights to the stone and to the herbage did not convey ownership of the land, and following the Commons Registration Act of 1965, attempts were made to establish the ownership. The Commons Commissioner held a hearing to consider the case of Care Scar Quarry in July 1977 at which the Parish Council claimed ownership as logical successors to the Surveyor of Highways. However, the Commissioner ruled that although the land could have been vested in the relevant Highways Authority, as they had made no claim it would remain classed as unowned and come under the protection of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. It is now the home of jackdaws, and the playground of climbers. Interestingly, in June 1964 the Parish Council agreed to sell 0.044 acres to the Craven Water Board for the development of the flow measuring station, only to have their knuckles wrapped the following year, as it wasn't theirs to sell!

Edge Side Quarry went through the same process in May 1987, with a similar result.

Edge Side Quarry is unenclosed except on the west side, and its location is not obvious on the ground. It is, however, marked out with a number of standing stones enclosing a 3.8 acre (1.5 hectare) area matching that shown on both the allotment map, and the Commons Registration map. These would have been put in immediately after the award was made. Very little stone seems to have been extracted from this quarry.

Edge House Quarry
Edge Side Quarry showing approximate positions of its boundary stones. Click for larger version

The following are the stones that mark the corners of the quarry. Click on any image to make it larger.

The Powder House

The Powder House
The Powder House. Click for larger version

So - what do we know about the Powder House? Not a lot, really. The name tells us that it was probably used to store explosives, and the rest of the evidence appears to confirm that purpose. Its architecture is similar to other powder houses in the area; it's protected by a formidable lightning rod; and it was built well away from other buildings.

Map evidence implies that it was built some time between 1850 and 1888, which was the period when the local lead mining industry was most active, but its location makes it unlikely that it was anything to do with the Hebden Moor Mining Company, who were based at the time in Bolton Gill. We do know from his catalogues that Ralph Bowdin's sold black powder from his general store in Bridge House, and we also know from the Grimwith Mining Company accounts that he supplied them with black powder in 1872. All in all, on current evidence it is likely that Ralph Bowdin was responsible for building it in the 1860s.

Water troughs on Main Street

Water trough opposite Chestnut House
Water trough opposite Chestnut House. Click for larger version

The troughs on Main Street make lovely plant beds, but they also hold a significant place in the history of the village. In the 1850s Hebden was a dirty place, and rife with cholera. People had to walk several hundred metres for all their domestic water - probably from Nanny Spout, and Low Green was largely a festering tip. In 1862, John Varley (1832-1903), a civil engineer then living in Burnsall, was employed to pipe a water supply into the village. We believe that the holding tank was behind the Old Tip, and the pipe was bought down Main Street, and plumbed into three new troughs which supplied domestic water for most of the village. If you take a closer look at the troughs, you will see the inscribed date, and where the water supply emerged.

The water supply was later augmented in 1910 when water was piped down from Brown Haw Well on Edge Top Lane into the same reservoir. See here for a map of that installation.

The wall enclosing Low Green behind the troughs was built later, in 1869 by the trustees of the Hebden Recreation Ground Charity.

The troughs are owned by the Parish Council.

The Post Office and Clarendon

The Post Office and Clarendon
The Post Office and Clarendon. Click for larger version

This is the picture of The Clarendon and the Post Office when they were next door to each other, in what we now know as Bridge House. It was printed on the back of the 1888 edition of Ralph Bowdin's Almanac, but it must have been drawn before 1875. The view is not that different from today.

Bridge House in about 2018
The same view about 2017.

Ralph Bowdin ran a large general store from the building on the right hand side, selling everything from lobsters to black powder, and providing postal office services. The original Clarendon Inn is on the left. The Clarendon Inn as we know it, I believe to have been built in Georgian times at the time of the turnpike - much earlier. It was originally called the New Inn, and then renamed The Oddfellows. It became The Clarendon in about 1888. The Clarendon Inn in the drawing was renamed The Jolly Miners about 1875, and in 1879 one traveller described it thus: "the lugubrious girl who waited upon us evidently had a keen eye for business, for she charged us sixteen pence for two bottles of ginger ale and a very small loaf of bread with an infinitesimal piece of butter. She must have had a shrewd notion that they wouldn't lose much when they lost our custom and consequently determined to take as much out of us as possible." The Jolly Miners was bought by Ralph Bowdin in 1881, who closed it down. The Post Office had moved moved to Green Terrace by 1894.

The School Clock

Hebden School turret clock mechanism
The school turret clock mechanism. Click for larger version

The School clock has graced the village with its chimes for over 140 years. It has a typical turret clock mechanism made by John Bailey of Salford in about 1875. It hadn't been installed when the school opened in August 1874, but we can be pretty sure about the date as the company changed its name to W.H. Bailey in 1876.

It was totally refurbished in 2000 by the Cumbrian Clock Company as a partly funded Millennium project, when it was under the care of Iain and Amanda Geldard. At the same time the opportunity was taken to install a mechanism to prevent the clock from chiming at night.

With thanks to Martyn de Montfort for the photograph.

Henry Bowdin in his cart outside the Post Office

Henry Bowdin in his cart outside the Post Office
Henry Bowdin in his cart outside the Post Office. Click for larger version

This fine photograph, courtesy of Liz Weatherby and Graham Atkinson, shows Henry Bowdin (driver) and his son Ralph (the little boy) outside the Post Office in about 1908. At the time, Henry was a carter, although he was later to become a farmer. Ralph was to later farm at Rosebank Farm, and died in 1973. The lady standing in the Post Office doorway is likely to be Jane Annie Tattersall, who would have been about 27, with her 3-year-old son Charles on her hip. Thomas Francis Hammond Tattersall and Jane Annie ran the shop at this time.

Note the post box in the window of the Post Office, and the hay rakes on display outside the shop indicating that it was summer. Working class Edwardian fashion is also on display: small-peaked caps; high closure four-button sack coats; metal heel plates on the boots; slim trousers; and an attached collar for Henry Bowdin, and no collar for the other gentleman.

Charabancs outside the Post Office

Photograph of charabancs outside the Post Office.
Charabancs outside the Post Office. Click for larger version

This photograph shows a party from the CHA Travel Lodge outside the Post Office setting off on a charabanc excursion, and dates from the 1910s. The charabancs were from Chapman's Royal Mail and Bus Service, a large carriage and coach company based in Grassington. In addition to carrying the Royal Mail into the Dale and running bus services, they took advantage of the influx of tourists resulting from the opening of the railway station in 1902, and diversified into running excursions. At first, they used horse-drawn wagonettes, but in 1905 they purchased the first of five large motorised charabancs. The ones in the photograph are 36 horsepower chain-driven Commer 28-seaters, with hard rubber tyres. As you can see, it was also well ventilated. If you look carefully, there is a guard fixed to the seats preventing the passengers at the end from falling out. The chap standing at the front is thought to be the excursion guide.

Parish Council versus George and Albert Stubbs, 1920

Map showing the location of the Stoobs garden.
The Stobbs garden outlined, with Low Green to the west from the 25" OS map

Not all is always sweetness and light in a village. In 1920, Hebden Parish Council took two local residents, brothers George Stobbs (1883-1949) and Albert Stobbs (1874-1966), to the County Court, to prevent them from claiming rights over Low Green, and claiming that section on the east side of the beck.

The story is associated with the triangular garden below the south-east side of the bridge. This is a peculiarly-shaped piece of land, but was part of a field that was chopped into two when the turnpike road bridge was constructed in about 1760. It had been purchased by the brothers' maternal grandfather about a hundred years ago, and had been in their family ever since. It was used as an allotment, and they kept hens on it.

The trouble started in about early 1917 when the Parish Council expressed concern about the hens straying onto Low Green, and a gate which had been opened up between Low Green and the garden allowing the hens access. A little while later, as a response to a conversation between the two parties, the Parish Council further requested a wayleave for the footpath across Low Green to the garden. The Stobbs refused, and declared that they had a right of way over Low Green, and that they owned the land between the garden and the bank. They then twice knocked down a fence built by the Parish Council blocking the entrance in the garden wall.

Solicitors became involved, and the Hebden Parish Council commenced proceedings against the two brothers. This was not well-received by many in the village, and at an Annual Parish Meeting in October 1920 a resolution was carried by eighteen votes to one for the Parish Council to stop proceedings, the only dissenter being Thomas Perks, the chairman of the council. But the proceedings continued because, as Perks told the court, "He was not satisfied with that expression of public opinion".

Despite a long list of local residents appearing for the defence, the Parish Council won their case on all counts, and were awarded damages and costs.

Newspaper reports of the proceedings may be found here.

The Children's Playground on Low Green

Early photograph of the Children's Playground - 1930.
Early photograph of the Children's Playground - 1930. Click for larger version

When the Parish Council was formed in 1894 and took on responsibility for the Recreation Grounds, their activities were confined to maintenance, planting trees and shrubs, and providing seats. In November 1929, however, they agreed to provide a children's playground. An area was allocated on the north side of the school, its northern boundary being determined by the gate into Low Green and the southern boundary by the school wall. W. Patrick, joiner from Grassington, was commissioned to build a fence, a set of swings, and a see-saw, and a sandpit was also provided. Access into the enclosure was via a wooden stile. It opened in about June 1930. A second swing was added later in the year. The photograph above is probably the earliest one taken of the playground - you can (just) see one set of swings, the sandpit, and the stile. The see-saw is probably in the shadow of the tree. There is only one set of swings, so it must have been taken within a couple of months of its opening.

The playground was, at first, jealously guarded by the Parish Council. In the August of that year the Clerk was directed to "write to the Matron of the Bradford Children’s Holiday Homes that the mothers and children refrain from visiting the Hebden’s children’s playground which is provided by the Parish Council for Hebden children only". The Holiday Home in question was the original Linton Camp. The following spring they resolved "that a notice be put up in the Children's Playground to the effect that the swings, see-saw and sandpit are restricted to the children of Hebden not over 14 years of age".

Over the next twenty five years, the equipment and fence were maintained, but then in October 1955 the Parish Council deciding that the swings were in a dangerous condition, dismantled the equipment, removed the fencing and returned the playground back to pasture. This was not a popular move, and in the December a request was made by the local government electors at the Annual Parish Meeting for it to be restored. The following March the Parish Council commissioned its reconstruction at a cost of £48, and lined the sandpit with breeze blocks.

In 1967, the Parish Council upgraded the playground with a set new swings, and a splendid all-metal slide. The latter would never pass health and safety standards today, but it has proved popular with children for over 50 years.

Photograph of children enjoying the new slide in 1967
Children enjoying the new slide in 1967. Click for larger version

The two toddler swings were installed in 1989 following a generous donation of £1,054 from Vera Rusmanis (1926-1999), who lived at Maryan cottage for over 30 years. Her husband Fricis (1912-1984), known as Francis, was a political refugee who had to flee his Baltic home state which he had previously represented in the Olympics. They are fondly remembered for collecting their drinking water from Nanny Spout in two large blue containers, every evening.

Longshaw Level and the Craven Water Board

Longshaw Level (or Lanshaw Level as it is incorrectly called by Yorkshire Water) is the first mine level reached when walking up Hebden Gill, and is situated just short of the Mossy Moor Reservoir outlet. It was excavated by the Hebden Moor Mining Company in about 1863 to intercept three mineral veins. These were reached in 1866 after about 350 yards, but were found to be barren so the venture was abandoned. However, the level had intercepted a small stream, which the company took advantage of by piping it down the valley to power the waterwheel near the Miners' Bridge.

Photograph of Longshaw Level as it is today.
Longshaw Level. Click for larger version

In about 1962, a new mains sewage system and a rising population meant that the water supply was no longer adequate for the village, and the Craven Water Board decided that it would be a good idea to augment the supply with water captured from the adit. A river flow-gauging station was first constructed downstream with a V-notch weir for measuring lower flow levels alongside a 3.35m wide Crump profile weir for measuring higher flow levels. Interestingly, the land on which this was built was part of the township quarry, and in June 1964 the Parish Council agreed to sell 0.044 acres to the water board, only to be told a year later that it wasn't theirs to sell! An underground reservoir was required in front of Longshaw Level to store the water. Unfortunately, a large spoil tip of the excavated stone lay where they wanted to site it.

Photograph of Hebden Gill showing the spoil heap outside Longshaw Level.
Hebden Gill with the spoil heap outside Longshaw Level. Click for larger version

The spoil heap was bulldozed flat, which accounts for the 'parking area' outside the level, and the reservoir excavated. The surplus material was then dumped on the beck side of the track on the downstream side of the Rocking Stone wall (upstream of the flow-measuring station), some 200 metres away, which accounts for the incongruous flat area of spoil where people often picnic.

A water treatment plant was built in the Hole Bottom carpark, and the new supply was switched on in 1966, but there were soon complaints about the excessive hardness of the water. A water softening plant was installed, but it never really solved the problem.

In the end it was deemed unwise to be pouring water from a lead mine down the throats of the locals, (although to be fair, the water from Longshaw Level was far less contaminated than that from Duke's Level, which was also used in times of water shortage) and a mains water supply was installed fed from Embsay Reservoir. The Longshaw Level reservoir is now unused, except possibly in times of acute water shortage. One anomaly that remains is that in 1966 Craven Water Board had compulsorily purchased the area immediately around all the mine shafts and adits in Hebden Gill (for £1 each!), presumably to protect their supplies. These little islands are still owned by Yorkshire Water, and when a shaft above Charger Level collapsed in June 1993, taking with it a ewe and a collie from High Garnshaw, they gated the adits and fenced off anything they thought might be a shaft.