Hebden Parish Lands
Hebden township has two sets of parish lands - the recreation grounds, and the townlands, which are managed by separate charities.
The two recreation grounds were awarded by the 1857 Enclosure Commission as areas for "Exercise and Recreation". They are managed by the Hebden Recreation Grounds Charity, Charity number: 523713. The townlands comprise of various areas of land which came into the ownership of the township in a variety of ways, and they are managed by Hebden Townlands Charity, Charity number: 224334. The ex officio trustees of both charities are the members of the Parish Council.
In addition, two areas allocated to the township for quarries by the Enclosure Commission are under the protection of the Parish Council.
In total, the Parish Council is responsible for over 90 acres (36.4 hectares) of land.
The Recreation Grounds
At the time of the Enclosure, as can seen on the 1846 Tithe Maps, Low Green, assigned plot number 488, belonged to the "Hebden Freeholders". It was open to what we now call Main Street, and ran down to where it was enclosed by a wall on the east side of the beck. This means that the Main Street verges are part of the allotment. High Green was pretty much the shape as it is now apart from not being terminated by a road gate at the north end, but there was no roadside wall between Town Head and the bridge into Brook Street, so again the allotment included the road verges and Town Hill. It had the plot number 207 on the Tithe Map, and was described as "waste" without a named owner.
These two plots of land were assigned to be recreation grounds by the Enclosure Commissioners value, Ralph Lodge:
And I declare that I have set out and do hereby set out allot and award unto the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of the Township of Hebden All those pieces or parcels of Land numbered 67 and 58 on the said map containing Five Acres three roods and thirty five perches to be held them and their Successors in trust as a place for Exercise and Recreation for the Inhabitants of the said Township and Neighbourhood"
The 1905 Charity Commission report makes the point that the two plots of land are not contiguous, and it would seem that there is a break under the main road bridge which is not included.
At the time of the Enclosure, Low Green included a school housed in two ancient cottages. By request of the rectors and church wardens an enclave was allotted for a new National School, which is where the Old School now sits.
As the same report remarks, "the land was not well adapted for the purpose of recreation", and attempts have since been made to find alternative sites, but without success. Low Green used to be treated as a tip by the villagers, and in 1867 the trustees sought and were granted permission to build a wall to separate it from Main Street. It is not known when the wall that separates High Green from the Town Hill area was built, but it was probably at the same time, and definitely before 1889.
The trustees were permitted to let the grazing on the land, as long as the money was spent on maintaining and improving the land and facilities.
Up to 1894 the Overseers of the Poor and the Church Wardens were the trustees of the land, and they did little with it, apart from enclose it. Nothing was done to improve their usefulness for "exercise and recreation", and they remained just bare pasture. The Parish Council was created in 1894, and took over the trusteeship of the Recreation Grounds Charity. In 1899 it initiated a tree planting program, in the corners by the bridges and along the length of Main Street, and in 1901 it built the bridge across the beck in High Green. The turnstile gate allowing egress onto the public footpath running to the mill from Main Street was made by William Bell in 1905. A number of seats were provided, which were taken in during the winter and painted.
In 1922, the Parish Council took two local brothers to the County Court for attempting a land grab of the land on the east side of the beck below the main road bridge. The Parish Council won its case.
The playground was created in 1930.
In 1947, Parish Councillor Robert Sturgeon felt strongly enough about the fact that in his view the Parish Council was not taking its duties as trustee of the recreation grounds seriously, to resign from the council. He wrote:
"Among the improvements I thought would be to the advantage of the village as a whole, was the development of the recreation grounds, so as to make best use of them for the purpose for which they were intended. This was impossible if they continued to be let for cattle grazing.... Any diversion from [the terms of the enclosure award] without making sure that no one wants to use them for recreation, is undoubtedly a breach of trust.... I would also like to point out that this is not a matter for a Parish meeting or for a majority vote. The rights of a minority in this case can only be taken from them by an Act of Parliament."
His resignation had little effect, as the usage of the recreation grounds continued in the same manner for the next 70 years, although as noted below, land usage on High Green has recently changed.
In 1953, the villagers with the support of the Parish Council commemorated the Queen's coronation with the Coronation Seat on Low Green opposite the Institute, providing somewhere to sit when waiting for a bus. The wall was raised and a roof added in 1981 to provide more shelter. In 1977 a silver birch was planted in High Green at the end of Brook Street to commemorate the silver jubilee of the Queen's accession to the throne.
In 1968 both High Green and Low Green were registered as Village Greens, based on their stated purpose in the Enclosure Award, and as such they are the subject of special protection under section 29 of the Commons Act 1876, and section 12 of the Inclosure Act 1857.
Section 12 of the Inclosure Act 1857 makes it a criminal offence to:
- wilfully cause injury or damage to any fence on a green;
- wilfully take any cattle or other animals onto a green without lawful authority;
- wilfully lay any manure, soil, ashes, rubbish or other material on a green;
- undertake any act which causes injury to the green (e.g. digging turf); or
- undertake any act which interrupts the use or enjoyment of a green as a place of exercise and recreation (e.g. fencing a green so as to prevent access).
Section 29 of the Commons Act 1876 makes it a public nuisance to:
- encroach on a green (e.g. extending the boundary of an abutting property so as to exclude people from that area);
- inclose a green (i.e. by fencing it in, whether or not the effect is to exclude public access)
The Parish Council has not always been as punctilious as it should have been in protecting the village greens. In 2017 it granted permission for an area behind the public conveniences to be fenced off for the exclusive use of one resident for a nominal wayleave, and prior to that in 2010 it attempted to sell two small plots of High Green land, one of them to a parish councillor. However, in 2022 it did invoke the full might of the law against a Brook Street resident who laid claim to part of the village green adjacent to his garden.
In 1971, after much lobbying by the Parish Council, the Craven District Council built public lavatories on a small area of Low Green, taking a sixty year lease for the land from the Parish Council with an agreement to restore the land to its original state on expiration. They were closed in 2006. In 2016 the Parish Council released the Craven District Council from their lease obligations, taking over the building without having undertaken a survey. The building was then immediately let to a local resident at a peppercorn rent, and it has remained in a state of neglect ever since.
Up to 2021 the grazing on both greens was let, which raised funds to maintain the land. In 2021 the Parish Council took the decision to halt grazing on High Green, and transform it into a nature reserve largely funded by a grant and a gift. A number of trees were planted, especially at the south end, and a project initiated to turn the flat grassy area into a wild flower meadow. Bird nesting boxes and bat roosting boxes were installed in the mature trees.
The Township Lands
The township lands consist of nine plots of land, which are managed by the Parish Council as the body providing the trustees to the Hebden Townlands Charity, Charity number: 224334. Three of the parcels of the land were allotted to the parish by the 1857 Enclosure Award, and the remainder were deemed as already belonging to the Parish.
In the case of the latter, the Charity Commission report of 1905 states that at an unknown time, but no later that 1836, a number of areas on the edges of the moor were cultivated by individuals for their own use. At first no one took notice, but then they were fenced off by the Overseers, and rents charged. The report says this was probably done about 1849, but all the fields in question were on the 1846 tithe map, so it must have been before then.
The Parish Council receives income from the land by letting its grazing and/or shooting, and the money is used for townlands maintenance and general Parish Council expenditure.
The Old Tip
The Old Tip is just that - a small area of land on the north-east side of the main road bridge which was a nineteenth and early twentieth century rubbish tip, deemed at the time of the enclosure ward to be parish property. It is about 1 rood 30 perches in area (0.18 hectares). It was once considered as a potential site for social housing, but the ground was found to be too unstable. It is currently leased by Longthornes of Hebden who use it for storage.
High Bank Side
High Bank Side is the pasture between the Old tip and the High Dene drive. It is the Parish Council's largest pasture, having an area of 5 acres 2 roods and 39 perches (about 2.33 hectares). In 1846 it was called Bankside, and belonged to the freeholders of Hebden. In light of this, one would expect that it would be regarded as an ancient enclosure and not available for allotment during the Enclosure. However, the Enclosure Commission's valuer assigned it to the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor, but with a substantial annual rent charge to be paid to three named individuals who were all major landowners in the parish, apparently, according to Thomas Hammond, to make up for a short fall in their awards.
"And I have also set out and do hereby set out allot and award unto the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of the said Township of Hebden all that piece or parcel of Land numbered 55 on the said Map containing Five acres two roods and thirty nine perches to be held by them and their successors in trust as an Allotment for the Laboring poor of the said Township of Hebden subject nevertheless to and chargeable with a clear rent charge of Four pounds and ten shillings which said sum does not exceed the net annual value of the said Allotment in its present condition... Unto Thomas Johnson as Trustee acting under the will of the late Abraham Chamberlain, £2 0s 0d, Unto The Trustees under the will of the late Robert Proctor, £1 10s 0d, Unto John Lupton, £1 10s 0d".
This rent charge was manifestly nonsense as the parish had previously owned the land in their own right. The Overseers had plenty of opportunity to review the allotments before they were sealed, and there is an implication that the rent charge was added as an afterthought. The Overseers refused to pay, and three claimants for the rent charge took the Overseers and Churchwardens to court to claim what had been due to them since 1857. According to an account in the Yorkshire Gazette, the case was heard on June 1863 in the County Sheriff's Court at York Castle. After hearing the case, the Under Sheriff directed the jury to issue a verdict that, although the money was due to the owners of the rent charge, there was no satisfactory evidence presented as to whom owned the rent charge. This was despite John Lupton, who was specifically named in the award, being one of the plaintiffs! The township had won the case. Thomas Hammond had a different version of the events, but that was very much an oral history written over 60 years later.
The Parish Council lets the field for grazing, and is responsible for maintaining the southern and western walls of the field. In 1974 the Council granted a 60 year lease on the south-west corner to the Yorkshire Water Authority to house a water supply booster station.
Why Gill Gap
This land was called Why Gap Meadow at the time of the 1846 tithe map, and belonged to the Hebden freeholders. Hence it did not feature in the 1857 Enclosure Awards. It has an area of 2 acres 3 roods and six perches (about 1.12 hectares), and is let by the Parish Council for grazing.
Standard Garth is a very small plot of land, 2 roods and 7 perches (about 0.22 hectares) in area. It is located right on the township boundary, without any access by means of a public right of way. It was owned by the Hebden freeholders at the time of the tithe map, and so does not feature in the 1857 Enclosure Awards. Standard Garth used to be let for grazing, but it was financially unviable, and in 1982 with the support of the Yorkshire Dales National Park the Parish Council planted trees to create a small, albeit stunted, woodland.
Low Bank Side
Low Bankside is the field below the main road on the opposite side of the beck from Low Green, with the track to Thors Ghyll running down through it. On the 1846 tithe map it is simply marked as "moor" and was registered to the Hebden freeholders. It has an area of three acres (about 1.2 hectares), and contains the remnants of a small limestone quarry which was probably used as a source of road stone. The field has some raikes rising up it, which are probably a landscape reflection of the North Craven Fault that runs beneath, and were used by wagons ascending Hebden Bank before the turnpike. The triangular garden in the north-west corner was unlikely ever to have been part of the field. It is the fragment of a field that was divided by the construction of the turnpike in the 1760s.
Low Bankside is let for grazing by the Parish Council, although in 1918 the Parish Council caused the area immediately south of the triangular garden to be converted into half a dozen allotments for the village residents. These were dismantled in 1954, and the area reseeded for pasture.
The track running through Low Bankside to Thors Ghyll was surfaced with tar macadam in 1976.
This land was also called Allan Garth at the time of the 1846 tithe map, and belonged to the Hebden freeholders. Hence it did not feature in the 1857 Enclosure Awards. It has an area of 1 acres 2 roods and 23 perches (about 1.12 hectares), and it's let by the Parish Council for grazing. "Garth" is derived from Old Norse and indicates a small grass enclosure next to a house.
This small elongated plot of land land was also called Stripe at the time of the 1846 tithe map, and belonged to the Hebden freeholders. Hence it did not feature in the 1857 Enclosure Awards. It has an area of 3 roods and 21 perches (about 0.077 hectares), and is let by the Parish Council for grazing.
Backstone Edge Allotment
Before the 1857 Hebden Enclosures those living in the township had the right to cut peat from the vast area of unenclosed moorland that extended from the main road north to the Nidderdale watershed. With little woodland in the area, this was the only fuel available. Once the moors were enclosed, such rights disappeared, and in some measure of compensation an area of land now known as Backstone Edge Allotment, was granted by the Valuer for the Inclosure Commission: "And I have also set out and do hereby set out allot and award unto the Churchwardens and Overseers of the said poor of the Township of Hebden All that piece and parcel of Land numbered 14 on the said map containing Fifty one acres and ten perches to be held by them and their successors in trust as a place for getting Turfs for the Inhabitant Householders of the said Township of Hebden for their own use but not for sale." 55 acres and 10 perches equates to about 22.3 hectares, and it amounts to well over half of the land for which the Parish Council is responsible.
The name "Backstone" apparently comes from the gritstone from the edge just to the south being particularly heat-resistant, and suitable for the back of fire grates. It is sometimes called "Baxstone Edge", but is appears as "Backstone Edge" on the 1853 6" OS map. The term "allotment" originates from the name given to an area of land being allotted under an enclosure award.
The Parish Council has historically rented out the shooting and grazing rights on Backstone Edge Allotment, but in recent years the rights of turbary have been little exercised. The Parish Council now see the right of turbary as an anachronism, and is investigating the possibility of preserving the remaining peat, and turning the area into a nature reserve.
Backstone Edge Lane, originally known as Turf Road
Access to Backstone Edge Allotment was by a new road, a turbary road, running north from Bank Top Farm. Responsibility for its upkeep was assigned to the township, and there is an implication that it belongs to the township. The Parish Council has always assumed ownership, renting out the grazing at least as far back as 1895, and more recently granting a wayleave for a sheep tunnel under the road:
"One private Carriage Drift and Occupation Road of the width of Thirty feet to be called the Turf Road commencing at a point marked C on the said map and extending thence in a Northwardly direction to and terminating at a point marked D on the said Map which said Road is set out for the use of the Owners and Occupiers for the time being of Lands and Tenements in the Township of Hebden
"And I direct and appoint the the expense of maintaining and repairing the said Private Carriage Drift and Occupation Road shall for ever hereafter be raised by rates to be levied on the Lands and Tenements in the Township of Hebden in such proportions as the same be rate to the Repairs of the Highways of the said Township"
Despite the fact that the words "private Carriage Drift and Occupation Road" indicated that Backstone Edge Lane, as it became known, had restricted access, it was at some point deemed to be a section of a bridleway that starts at Bank Top Farm, runs through Backstone Edge Allotment, and hence north to the boundary with Grassington where it abruptly stops.
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"
Care Scar Quarry
Care Scar Quarry is Plot 30 on the enclosure map. It is enclosed on its eastern and northern boundaries, and part of its southern boundary, but is not marked on the ground to the east or the south. Its approximate extent as defined in the Commons Registration map is shown on the following Google Earth map. Its area
Its western extent is on the west side of the beck, and enclosed by a wall all the way down to the Hole Bottom gate. The fact that the area includes the area on the west side of the Miners' Bridge is surprising, as that that land was purchased by the Hebden Moor Mining Company from the Duke of Devonshire in 1855. The northern limit is marked by the wall rising up to the Rocking Stone. The eastern boundary runs along the top of the scar, and is not marked. The south-east boundary on the slope of the hill is also unmarked, down to the wall. The boundary is then delineated by the wall returning back to the Hole Bottom gate.
The grazing was allotted separately, and the maintenance of the northern boundary wall was assigned to the owner of the grazing.
In the late 1850s and the 1860s the Hebden Moor Mining Company leased all or some of the land. A smelt mill was built on the east side of the bank adjacent to the Miners' Bridge, and a few metres further up the track a waterwheel was installed to drive a power cable to Bolton Gill Engine Shaft. The exit from the tail race can still be seen below the track.
In 1946 the "Falling Rock, a large square pinnacle which stood in front of the main quarry face, collapsed.
In June 1964 the Parish Council agreed to sell 0.044 acres (178 m²)to the Craven Water Board for the development of the flow measuring station, only to have its knuckles wrapped the following year, as it wasn't theirs to sell!
Care Scar Quarry is now the home of jackdaws, and the playground of climbers.
Edge Side Quarry
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.
The grazing was allotted separately, and the maintenance of the western boundary wall was assigned to the owner of the grazing.
The following are the stones that mark the corners of the quarry. Click on any image to make it larger.
Ownership of the Quarries
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 Parish Council in accordance with Section 9 of the Commons Registration Act.
Edge Side Quarry went through the same process in May 1987, with a similar result.