Margaret Greenwood

Margaret Greenwood

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Are these Yorkshire sayings?

Yorkshire dialect sayings:

There was these two old ladies walking along and there were another young woman walking past and she were covered in spots, and one of these ladies said to the other ‘wonder what’s the matter with ‘er?’ and this other one says ‘I expect ‘er’s been in some mack of a muck ‘oil and ‘er’s no bound to tell!’

Then another one:

‘What ter doin’?’ That means ‘What are you doing?’

Then there’s ‘nothing of the sort’ – ‘Nowt at all o’ sort’

‘Where have you been’ – ‘Weer’s ta been?’

Then there’s ‘Go away’ – ‘Tek thee hook’

Did your parents use those sorts of sayings?

Well, not necessarily – my grandmother did, she was real broad Yorkshire and my grandfather on one side, on my mother’s side, but my father’s side they came from Bristol way, Leicester, so they didn’t talk like us at all. And like, the Yorkshire dialect is a different thing altogether than the Lancashire dialect isn’t it? It is. I can tell in a minute, yes.

Did they have different dialects around here then, I mean did Hebden Bridge have its own and Todmorden, Cragg Vale or different places?

Well Todmorden is more bordering on the Lancashire because the Town Hall, you look at the top of the Town Hall – half of it was in Yorkshire and half was in Lancashire, but yes a lot of people in Todmorden do have that Lancashire dialect.

But the people in Mytholmroyd or Cragg Vale didn’t have…?

Oh no, no.

I would like to start by asking you your full name and then where and when you were born.

My name is Margaret Greenwood; I was Margaret Smith before I was married and I was born on November 30th 1925 and I was born in some cottages straight opposite the Stubbing Wharfe Hotel, and I lived there twenty-three year before we got married.

What was the address there, what was it called?

Thirty King Street.

And what was that house like, because it’s knocked down now isn’t it?

Oh yes they knocked it down for road widening and a lot of the houses below the road, they got flooded. Well actually, all those…that row of houses belonged to Pickles’s Foundry which was behind, engineers, and they were all that little bit different somehow – oh they were old-fashioned and you know, you’d to go through one bedroom to get to another bedroom, there were no bathrooms and…no.

You didn’t like it?

Well we weren’t used to anything else really, I mean a friend of mine they got a council house at Fairfield and they had a bathroom, and I thought it was wonderful you know. No, none of them had bathrooms and as I say, they belonged to Pickles’s Foundry, and we paid three shillings a week rent.

When was that – in the twenties and thirties?

Yes, it would be – during the war, it would be, yes.

Did your father work for Pickles?

No, me father worked at Astin’s sewing shop and my mother did, where the doctor’s is now. That used to be Astin’s…sewing shop you know, they made trousers and what not.

And what job did he do in the sewing shop?

He was a Hoffman presser, and my mother was a buttoner.

Was she on like piece work?

No, they were on time because they did different things you see.

Did you have any brothers or sisters?

I had a brother, he was nine years older than me and he died three years ago. He was in the navy during the war and he had malaria and then when came home and he was just like a dead ‘un. He got over it you know, but it keeps recurring doesn’t it, malaria? It does yes, my father had it and it came back every once in a while. He was a stoker on a mine sweeper – I think it’s one of the worst jobs you could pick is that [chuckling] and he used to have to be chained to you know the back so that when the ship rolled they didn’t go flying against the boiler. You can understand that can’t you really? Yes you can.

Did he stop in Hebden Bridge after the war?

Yes, mmm. He was out in Lagos for a while, Nigeria [pause]. Yes, he was nine years older than me and we were never really close, you know what I mean, not like my children are.

Those houses that you were born in on King Street, when were they actually knocked down?

Now then I couldn’t really tell you that, I couldn’t tell – it’s a long time since, oh it’s…was it in the sixties or was it before that?[pause]I couldn’t really tell you when they were knocked down, I couldn’t really.

Did you move out before they were knocked down? Did you move to another house?

Well I got married from there you see and then my mother died there, and my father got married again, and he moved. [pause] It must have been in the…either the late fifties or the sixties they were knocked down when I come to think. The walls you know, you couldn’t paper because the walls weren’t like that [demonstrating] they were like this [demonstrating] and if you tried to you know, match your paper, you were about so far out [demonstrating] because they were bowed and all shapes the walls were and they were right low. We had gas when we went there and there were beams across you know, and then you were posh if you had asbestos put across the beams and then you’d a flat roof you know [laughing]. And then our coal place, you’d to go through the front and you’d to go into the kitchen and went up the stairs (there) and the coal place were (there), I know one Saturday morning – he used to come on Saturday morning did the coal man – Mitchell from Eastwood – and it were a new man he had with him, and he opened the wrong door and he put the coal into the staircase instead of the coal place! Ooh we had a mess! We had a mess! [chuckling]

What was the kitchen like?

Well, just one tap, we’d just one tap and we’d a kitchenette and then…the sink and then…a gas boiler and then a table ringer at the side and then the gas stove at the side o’ that, and there used to be a stone sink, well when we had a white pot sink put in, ooh we were posh!

When you were young about that area, what sort of things, what kind of games did you play?

Well, next door to us there was a shop – she used to sell everything – and she had a family, well all the kids used to join together and we’d play hide and seek; one would be looking in the shop window and he had to guess what such things were, and we used to play together like that, we were really entertained. And then behind the houses there was a big field in front of Pickles’s Engineers and we used to play football and cricket on there….

Did it not bother you living so close to such a big works?

Oh no, no – at tea time it used to file out just like a football match…there were a lot worked there, and Pickles’s had a few big houses round Mytholm. The house that…where you go into Mytholm Court, that used to belong to one of Pickles’s, and one higher up…that were built…a lot of them used to belong…well, they were well off. Mytholm Hall, that was Mytholm Court which is now, that were Mytholm Hall, and Hyram Pickles used to live there, that was the big man, and when we were kids we could see from our back, and they used to have garden parties and oh – we thought it were marvellous.

What was he like?

I didn’t know Hyram, he was sort of the big man but you didn’t see him. His sons sort of ran it for him.

What school did you go to?

Well I started off at Mytholm School and then I went to Central Street, that was it. I left school when I were fourteen. I started working at Waterside Clothing Company and Elizabeth were born in 1952 when I left, that was when we lived at Bankfoot Terrace and then I was four and a half year and I had Robert so I were at home another four and a half years and then I went working at Dewhirsts, that’s next to Central School, and then I left Dewhirsts and I went working to Melbourne and I finished there, and that was it – I was made redundant.

Were all those jobs sewing?

Sewing, yes.

So what did you sew?

Well you see I were taught to make through, straight from the cutting room to the machinist but as time wore on, it got to section work; it was divided up – somebody would make the pockets, somebody would put the hip pockets in, somebody would put zip flies in and such like but I didn’t like that, I liked to make through because there aren’t two machinists work alike; everybody’s that little bit different. It stood me in good stead because I mean I’ve made dresses and trousers and all sorts since you know, and it’s stood me in good stead, although I know once …Herbert Lumb (you wouldn’t know Herbert Lumb), he was one of the bosses at Waterside, and we were arguing about something one day and I says ‘it’s rubbish is this ‘ere job’ and he said ‘Margaret, you’ve got a trade in your fingers’ and I’ve thought about that many a time.

So in the sewing shop where you were, how many women were there in there?

Oh about forty at Waterside, yes. It was straight across (from here) and behind that there was James Simpsons Mineral Waters, then there’s Snow White Laundry behind that, as you go down Bankfoot Terrace just at the bottom there; across the river (here). Yes, I liked there.

Was it a noisy place to work?

Well you get used to it – it wasn’t anything like a weaving shed; weaving sheds are noisy – I mean I’ve never worked, my aunties used to work there and I used to visit up, chuckling, it was noisy to a certain extent but you got used to it – you got that you could sort of lip read a bit you know, well they did that in the weaving shed didn’t they, but…they did in the sewing shop a bit…I mean as time wore on, there weren’t a lot of machinists you know, and you could get a job anywhere you wanted; you could just leave one sewing shop and go to another if you wanted.

What was your first pay in the sewing shop?

Nine shillings and ten pence. [chuckling]

And that’s when you were fourteen?

That’s when I was fourteen, yes. Well, when we got married my husband, he used to drive for Moss Brothers Dye Works and his pay was only four pound something a week, and I used to earn three pound something and I put my money away every week; I used to save it every week, and if you worked Saturday mornings you had a bob or two extra you see, and we used to come home at Saturday dinner time and we’d go to Wakefield on the train. Happy days, happy days.

How long would it take you – like if you were making a pair of trousers, from start to finish – how long did it actually take to make a whole pair of trousers?

[pause] Well you could make a pair in half an hour to three quarters, something like that. That quick? Yes, but you didn’t used to get them in single ones, you used to get them in either twos or fours you see; you used to go up to a desk and there’s a lady there and she’d a big book with all the numbers in, and they were all piled up the work, and she’d give you what were next, book it in your own little book, book it in her book and then when you’d finished you used to finish ‘em and put them on to a table for the seam presser you know to press the seams, and then you used to go up to the desk again and get some more work you see. And we were all in the union. Which union? Tailors and Garment Workers. I have my badge now – a little pair of scissors, a right little teeny weeny pair of scissors like that [demonstrating] – Tailors and Garment Workers Union and the man used to be based at the Trades Club you know, up Holme Street, and if you wanted him you know, there was always one person that were in charge and they’d ring for him. I know one time we were arguing about something and he were there, this union man that they’d sent for, and I were arguing and he says to me in front of everyone ‘you’re nothing but a bother maker’ so I went to him after that, I says ‘you said that in front of everybody and you will apologise in front of everybody’ I says ‘cos I was only standing up for our rights’ and he had to do – he apologised in front of everybody.

Were there a lot of disputes in the works?

Well it were all over…they used to be paid in eighths of a penny and then it got to tenths of a penny – eighth of a penny – well you’d argue for an eighth of penny you know, yer it were a lot of money when it piled up you know, oh yes you did; that’s mostly what it was about, the prices.

Was there like a set rate then that you had to work to?

Oh yes, yes – it were all written down what prices…what pockets were and this, that and t’other; everything were in eighths, ‘cos you see some had two pockets in, some had belt loops on, some had fly fronts, some had button fronts, you know – that carry on. Well I’ve made all sorts beside trousers; I’ve made waistcoats, chefs’ jackets, dentists’ jackets, warehouse coats, and we used to make for Mackintosh’s at Halifax, the chocolate firm you know, oh and there were all sorts of fancy stuff; little caps, we used to make those as well, little white caps for the ladies.

Did you enjoy that kind of work?

Well yes and no. I always fancied going into an office because I’ve always been a writer, I love writing and my parents said to me when I were fourteen ‘you’re either going into t’sewing shop or going into t’mill’ well I thought t’sewing shop were a little bit posher than t’mill so I went into t’sewing shop, and me cousin got me this job at Waterside and I worked at t’side of her for years, and she put me in…well there were somebody there that showed you how to do you know, but she put me in there as well.

How would you compare Waterside and Dewhirsts and Melbourne Works, were they similar?

Well at Waterside, they got big orders; now when I went to Dewhirsts, they’d only small orders so therefore, and they made such a lot of different things at Dewhirsts, you could go almost a week and every time you went up for some work you got something different like that, [demonstrated] I didn’t like that at all; I’d rather have repetition…I liked at Melbourne, I did…but it was a big firm, a very big firm, a combine you know, and there was the weaving shed; the weaving shed was round the back, well Melbourne was where the Co-op is now and the weaving shed was up the other side, and my husband used to garage his lorry underneath Melbourne and then Moss Brothers, that were part of the combine as well, Redmans, Tommy Suts…but it were Redmans that started this section lark. A lot o’ young uns that worked at Redmans, they could just do one little bit and that were it, they were lost then. But as I say, there’s no two machinists work exactly alike.

If you worked section, did you make less money or more money?

Well we weren’t on section a right long time; you see, when Redmans…Redmans took over Melbourne at t’finish up and we were just going to start section work there, but it never came to that because we were made redundant.

I’d like to ask you about special days, the sort of things you would do at Wakes Week or Whitsuntide or Christmas, those sorts of times?

Well, we always used to go to Blackpool – everybody did – we used to go to Blackpool and we stayed at the same place on the front, Mona it were called, the Mona, I think that’s pulled down now, and I think I told you before, this girl, she were about my age, and we were right pals, and she came from Liverpool and that’s her dad that worked at Liver Buildings, and during the war she was evacuated to us, and then we sort of lost touch till…it would be ten year or more since. A young man that I know, they called him Lloyd Green but he’s dead now, he says ‘Margaret’ he says ‘you know me don’t know, we were in t’same class at school’, I said ‘yes’ he says ‘well’ he says ‘there’s a lady been in Hebden Bridge and she asked me if I knew you and I said ‘yes’ – she left me this note’ and it were from Audrey at Liverpool, and we’ve sent letters, and I got a letter, a Christmas card from her the other day and she’s been to visit me and we’ve been to visit them, and they live right at the end of the M62 motorway; it’s lovely where they live. Robert took us. She hasn’t altered – she looks older, but she hasn’t altered. She put a letter in her card and she’s got cataracts, she’s gonna have an operation. I said ‘well you’ll not be in the hospital long ‘cos there’s about four or five of you and you all sit in this room together, then they shout and you aren’t in less than ten minutes to have these cataracts done. They don’t put you out or anything, just…that’s it. I haven’t had it, it were my husband that had it.

Did it work?

Well he allus thought he should have had the other eye done as well but it never got to that you know.

Did your whole family go to Blackpool?

No, my brother never used to go – ‘cos he were nine years older than me and Mum and Dad and I went, and Grandma and Granddad, and when we come back the kitchen was full of pots that wanted washing up [laughing]…yes, he stayed at home on his own.

What was it like in Blackpool? What was the attraction to go there?

Well I mean, then there weren’t all the amusements that there are today; we used to be content to play on the sands and we used to go in the Tower, and we always used to go to the Tower Circus – that were lovely, and there weren’t the shops there are today, but it were nice, it were nice.

What did you do at Whitsuntide – did you do anything special then?

Well not particularly, no.

How about Christmas?

Well we just used to have family that’s all, because the four or five of my Father’s relations lived up King Street and we used to…you know, together, oh it were nice, yes. My grandmother had a…my grandfather had a fish and chip shop and it used to be the Co-op on (this side of the road) – there are flats now and that used to be King Street Co-op, and they had a fish and chip shop next door but before that they kept the Robin Hood up Pecket Well. Oh did they? Did you ever visit up there when they had the pub? Oh I were only so big [chuckling] and they’d give me that buffet and I used to…it’s all altered now – I used to sit behind the bar and I were weaned on Ramsden’s Stone Trough Ales! [laughing]. It were before I went to school, and at Saturday nights we used to go up and my father used to help behind the bar you know, and it’s a mile in’t it from Pecket to Hebden, and course t‘buses didn’t run late then and I remember I was as tired as a dog and he used to carry me down Hebden on his shoulders and I weren’t so old, before I started school…and that’s all been altered. I know at this side it used to be an open space and all up the back it were all those tub lavatories [shudders] but now the toilets will be inside I suppose now, and my grandfather used to keep hens and chickens up this side – that’s the car park now.

Do you have any old photographs of when he was there?

No I haven’t…well I have somewhere, but…yes I have, and I were just stood in t’doorway and I were only about so big [demonstrated]; I couldn’t find it now, it’s in and among hundreds of ‘em.

At Christmas time, did you have a tree, or did you make decorations – what sort of things did you actually do?

Well we used to have a tree, not one of these artificial ones, Elizabeth has an artificial one only it’s dropping all over the floor – no, I don’t know what they were made of then, they were only about so big [demonstrated] about four of five foot? no, not so big, not so big, and then we’d decorations from the corners you know, twisted paper, so you made your own decorations? well you had to do. It were all that crepe paper and you cut it into pieces like that [demonstrated] and twisted it, and it were like that [demonstrated] when you’d finished. Oh no, there weren’t the decorations that there are today. I still have a bowl up here, a glass bowl what I used to keep me…when I were a kid, I used to keep me Christmas decorations in a little bowl thing you know, a little silver thing, I still have that – I wouldn’t part with that for the world.

Can you remember – you said it used to flood a lot down there; was the a regular thing?

When the river was high, yes – as the river’s been this last week, it would have definitely flooded, because down below…just a minute…what I call the Foundry Lane which you go up to Pickles’s Foundry, just a bit higher up, the houses there wree below the road, you know – you’d to go down a step because the road had been highered over the years, ‘cos the always said King Street – King Street was King Street before Hebden Bridge was Hebden Bridge; now we lived up a couple of steps you see, so we never got flooded.

Can you remember any of the floods and what they were like for people?

Oh it were terrible, yes they’re terrible, and they used to be trying to shovel it out you know, and oh no – you see they all had little grates in front of their house and that’s where it used to come up from the river. We could tell exactly – well I can tell now – we could tell exactly when the water was going to come out, these certain stones – you could tell; I can tell now down here when it’s going to come out. Well, a few months ago, I were in bed and t’phone rang at quarter past eleven this night, I thought ‘who in the world is that’, well you’ve got to answer because you don’t know – it might be somebody that wants help, and I answered it and it was a floor warning. I thought ‘oh fancy waking me at quarter past eleven at night’ – anyhow I got up and looked, but there were no water on the bottom, but I’ve seen, when I worked at Waterside, it’s up there like – you can see – and this was in 1946; that was the biggest flood, and the road on here and the river were just like two rivers running down; that was in…September 1946 oh really? yes it was. And there’s…wait a minute…where that pub is, what’s it called?….The Railway, and then there’s another, a restaurant in’t there? It’s called Moyles now. Moyles, yes – on one of those gate posts there’s a line and it tells you the date of the flood and it shows the line where it came up to. Oh really? I’ve not seen that. Yes it does.

And the shops on Market Street were flooded out – there were a shop called Haigh’s which were a ladies’ outfitters, and they said the dummies were floating up and down in the water! [laughing] oh yes…September the…I don’t know what date it were, but it were September ‘46, I know…just after that we went to a friend of mine, to his twenty-first birthday. It must have been t’early part of September, yes it was definitely, and I think that was one of the worst floods round here.

Did you get floods every year or was it just every…

Oh no – not every year, no, oh no – no, they might have had a little bit, but nothing compared with what that was, no, and we…my friend and I, we worked at Waterside and we could see a policeman carrying ‘em across that – you know that iron bridge on ’end here – there were a policeman and t’water were over there, and policeman were carrying you across, course we thought this were real so we went out and we were carried across and we were carried back again! [laughing]

Yes, my friend, she lived…she used to live up Fairfield and we went out together since being fourteen, she worked at Waterside as well, and she got married and she went living in Austria – he was a Yugoslav actually, and she lived in Austria, near Klagenfurt, the Airport, and she’d two daughters and then eventually she went living in Fuerteventura with another daughter that lived there, and she died out there last year. We’ve kept in touch every since – lovely person she is…and she used to go back to Austria when she were poorly, she’d go back to Austria and she was in a nursing home, she says ‘it’s beautiful’ she says ‘it’s right up in the mountains’ she says ‘it’s gorgeous’ – I could just imagine it, you know! Aye, she was a lovely person, Joyce.

What sort of social life did you have – what sort of things did you do after work?

Well when I were in me teens I used to go down to the library when the library was…the library was where…you know where the Hole In The Wall is don’t you? There’s a car park there, the library was there, that’s part of the council offices now – we used to go up some steps; I used to go down there and my father would say ‘you do read a lot – where are you going?’ you know – seven o’clock at night – ‘where are you going?’ ‘I’m going down to t’library’ – so at ‘finish up I said ‘you never bloody ask me where I’m going at seven o’clock in a morning!’ [laughing]. Yes, the library used to be there, and then the fire station was round the front, you know – where they hold the jumble sales now. There’s the thing up on the wall where they used to keep the what-is-it, and I told you my uncle used to drive the fire engine and he used to drive the ambulance as well oh that’s right – you were telling me about that hmmm – and they used to keep the ambulance up where Shepherd’s Garage used to be – the ambulance was garaged there, but the ambulance – if you got two phone calls, the ambulance came first and Albert Hitchen used to drive the fire engine.

Was he the one that had the one-way phone?

Yes. Just the phone…it was incoming, you couldn’t ring out but it was just a bit of a thing like they have way-out west, yes, he used to have it in the bedroom and…he used to go straight away, no hesitation; he had a motorbike, and he used to keep it round the back, motorbike and sidecar actually – a Brough Superior it was.

And I told you that Ted Hughes’s grandma used to have that sweet shop – the first shop – didn’t I? This end of King Street, this end of King Street. Yes. She had a little sweet shop, Mrs Hughes. The Fox and Goose end? This end, yeh – Hebden end, and Ted Hughes was her grandson and he used to come and visit her, and he were all poshed – he were a bit younger than me and he were all poshed up you know and we used to think ‘oh in’t he posh?’ you know.

Did you ever speak with him?

Well sort of…not really ‘cos he didn’t sort of mix with us kind of thing, I think he thought he were a little bit better. His father had a tobacconists down…Crown Street, and his wife – his first wife were Sylvia Plath, she’s buried in Heptonstall. They say they didn’t get on and then he went living at…I forget what it’s called now…up Mytholm, somewhere at t’top of Mytholm, up ‘Steeps there Lumb Bank Lumb Bank – that’s where he went, Lumb Bank, then he died didn’t he? I’ve heard ‘em say he was a bit of an oddity, you know some how, an oddity; he were even an oddity when he were a kid. They lived at Mytholmroyd because there’s a plaque – I’ve forgotten what street it is, there’s a plaque where he used to live at Mytholmroyd.

Did you ever meet him when he was little?

Well we’ve seen him come to his grandma’s, you know, as I say, he was that little bit posh somehow – an oddity he was, I can’t say anything else.

Did you like to go dancing or anything like that?

I’ve never been to a dance in my life, no I haven’t, no.

Did you go to pubs then?

We used to sneak if we could, you know! [laughing] I know a few of us went up to a pub at Tod, I forget which one it were now, and t’landlord came round – he says ‘I think you lot had better go – you’re under age aren’t you?’ we had to sneak out again, you know!

Later in life, did you go to pubs at all?

No, I’ve never been a drinker. We used to go…we used to go, ‘appen a Saturday and we’d have a couple of drinks, you know in t’car – we used to go up Norland and all over like that. Ooh, Mrs next door, she’s had her fireplace knocked out and she’s a do-it-yourselfer, and she has been doing-it-yourself this week an’ all; I see the lintel is knocked out, it’s in the yard – I don’t know what she’s propped t’chimney breast up with.

I hope it doesn’t fall down.

Sellotape or summat like that! You can hear her can’t you – she’s a drill or something.

How has Hebden Bridge changed then? Have there been good changes or bad changes?

Well I should say bad. Do you reckon? As I say, you could walk on the street and you could say ‘hello’ ‘hello’ – you don’t know a soul; I’ve been down Hebden this morning – I haven’t spoken to a soul that I knew. There’s all southerners.

Anything else?

[pause] No I don’t know really…and I mean all the shops are all different. I can’t remember any of the shops that’s the same as they used to be. There used to be where who-is-it is now – Max the Jewellers, that used to be Tom Blackburn’s and that was an ironmonger’s, and they always used to say ‘that shop could do with coming down’ and it still could do with coming down because the cars have to go right round haven’t they like that, and then there was a photographer’s there as well – Alice Longstaff’s – she was buried in a garden…lived up Slack somewhere and she were buried in the garden, yes…we had our photograph taken there when we were married; you used to go and have a group photo – they didn’t used to come with their cameras outside church like they do today, you used to have to go to Alice Longstaff and have a group photograph; some of them had that many relations it were like a football match…I know I got the flowers from…it’s the curtain shop now, Booth’s on t’corner of Crown Street in’t it? that’s right it were Lillian Spencer that had it; they were t’Foursquare lot religion and she said ‘what sort of flowers do you want?’ I said ‘I want red roses’ I says ‘but they tell me they don’t show up on a black and white photograph, red roses’ she says’ if you want red roses, you have red roses!’ and I had red roses! Yes, there were a gang of them and they were called the Foursquare – it were some sort religion you know, I know they used to live up Unity Street and she were one of them and I tell you they used to grow all the flowers up…right at t’top of Glen View, that were Spencer’s…yes, they grew all the stuff up there.

And there was a stream runs right down there, runs through that wood, across underneath Savile Road, down another field and diagonal across Pickles’s Foundry and it comes out at the…bottom of Foundry Lane, where the turning circle is there. That’s where it all floods – it comes out there now, just a bit, ‘cos it holds it back, you know.

Were there any other shops then around the King Street area?

Well there was King Street Post Office, there was a Co-op, then there was Mrs … tape stopped.


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Wild Rose Heritage and Arts is a community group which takes it's name from the area in which we are located - the valley ("den") of the wild rose ("Heb") -  Hebden Bridge which is in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

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