Ann Kilbey

Ann Kilbey

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Can we just start by you telling me your full name?

Oh I don’t usually admit to that, it’s Pauline Ann Kilbey, but I’ve never been known, well apart when I was first at school, I’ve never been known as Pauline, always Ann.

Where and when were you born?

You shouldn’t ask a lady these questions! 30th of June, 1943 in Watford, in Herfordshire.

Can you tell me a little bit about your childhood?

I was born in North Watford but at the age of six months moved to West Watford to a house that belonged to the firm. Watford was a printing town and all the family worked for the print, Sun Printers it was in those days and this house was both adjacent to, it was adjacent to the factory on two sides – down the side across the bottom of the garden. Father was the buyer and stores manager and general dogsbody. If anything went wrong, Dad was called out which was why it was handy to live next door to the job, but one of the main things I remember when I was quite small was going into the factory because Father’s office was at the top of the yard, but I had an aunt who was sister in charge of the surgery and I used to toddle through the factory at quite a young age – I mean you’d never be allowed today – to go visit Aunty Eva in the surgery, and I used to go past these huge great printing machines Gosses and Vomax and everybody knew me – I was Freddy Jeans’s daughter and all the fellas would watch out for me you know – it was just lovely, but I think I grew up sort of having an interest in sort of industrial processes because it just seemed normal.

Did you have brothers and sisters?

I have one brother who’s four years older than me and he of course went into the print and became a fitter, an engineer.

And what about your Mum?

Mum died when I was eighteen, er that came as a tremendous shock, we didn’t know there was anything wrong till November. She had a fall and it just seemed to trigger things and she were dead in the January, and that was a most tremendous shock. My brother knew much before me that there was no hope but they didn’t tell me – they thought they were being kind, but…I don’t think they were really because I didn’t have long enough to get used to the idea before Mum had gone and so that had quite an effect on my on me life really, because at eighteen I had to take over the reins of the house and we had Grandmother living with us, an so I had all these responsibilities. Father didn’t take it well and…married again really quickly so I had all the worries and responsibilities of the house, and relationships, when all me mates – my peers – were just out having fun, and so…you know, that had a big impact (interviewer) – yeh…yeh.

And were you working at that time?

I was working. My second job, my first job was at Kodak but that was quite interesting to start with, but soon became a sort of production line type thing so I got out of there, and I went to work for The Bakery Research Station which was on Chorley Wood Common, and that was where I was working when Mum died, and… I…kept it up for a while but then it all just became a bit too much for me and I did leave off work for a while, but not for long ‘cos of course at eighteen, nineteen, you want some pennies in your pocket and you know I got nothing, so I went back to work again.

When did you come to Hebden Bridge?

In nineteen sixty eight. I…I got married in sixty four which was not a success….I know now why I got married, Mum died in the January and there was this guy that worked for Kodak, and his Dad died in the April, and so we had something in common…but that’s not really a basis for marriage and it didn’t work. But we came to Hebden – he got a bee in his bonnet about farming and we came to Hebden Bridge.
Why here – it’s a long way?
Well, basically it was the price that determined where we were likely to buy a farm and we looked at one in Wales, which would have been better land than there is round here, but…it was very Welsh if you know what I mean – Welsh speaking and chapel, and we felt we would not have fitted in, and I’m quite sure you know, it was the right decision ‘cos we found the farm up at Colden and…I mean it was January, it was cold, it was blowing a gale, chucking it down with rain but we still liked it, so it could only get better [laughing].

Where did you see it advertised – how did you know that it was there?

I think we’d spent a bit of time sort of going round the country and putting our names down at the estate agents, so hence [someone comes in ‘I’ve got company’ someone wants to join in (maybe a pet?)] and so yes, we just got on the books of the estate agents. Yes, yes….

Can you tell me a little bit about what Hebden Bridge was like in nineteen sixty eight, or what it was like in Colden?

I feel that I was very lucky in coming to live in the area at that time because it was very much the end of an era. We…I was lucky again, because I moved into a farm called Old Edge and the next door farm was called New Edge, and there were a couple there with two boys just a tiny bit younger than me, and their two sons and the father Harry desperately wanted a daughter, so he adopted me and it was really good. The people who had not immediately before us, there was somebody in for four years, in between, but the previous people to that, a family called Feather had been there for about twenty six years I think, and they had two daughters and the two families had farmed together, in co-operation let’s put it that way, and so with Harry adopting me this practice continued. Things like…when it came to hay-making – oh sorry, I should tell you – with the farm I inherited the working horse, Prince, and when it came to mowing, Harry had a little horse-drawn petrol-driven mowing machine, and with the steep land in the Colden valley it required two horses so his horse and my horse were harnessed together to mow, and he’d mow his land he’d mow my land you know so it ran on petrol and had horses pulling it? yes, the horse was power that drove it forward, the petrol engine drove the cutter blade so it wasn’t quite as hard work for the horses, so yes, I used to like hay-making and Prince, my old horse, was a real character. I don’t know whether I dare say this, but he was obviously used to Harry’s language and he knew his job perfectly did this old horse. if I was going across a field…because of the steepness of the land you had to think, I mean nowadays you just drive a tractor up and down and you don’t have to worry, but a horse – you don’t want to be making a horse go up hill too much, so you’d go across and up a hill a bit, across, down a bit, you know, he knew just how many rows to go up, but he didn’t want to go to the end of the row, he’d try to just cut the work short. The only method of getting him to go to the end of the row was to say ‘get on you old sod’ [laughing] – call him anything else, he didn’t take any notice but call him an old sod and he knew what it was about, it was obviously the language that he was used to! So yeh, haymaking and…I had for quite some time with other horses after Prince had gone, I had a little sledge. The farm was in the middle, oh sorry, the buildings were in the middle of the farm, and I had a sledge and in the winter I would muck out me cows and put the much straight on the sledge and take it down into the fields.

So you had the sledge for what then…?

For muck spreading, muck carting, muck leading as the term was, muck leading.

So did you know anything about farming when you arrived then?

Not a thing! But there were plenty of people to give advice and I did go to one or two courses at Todmorden College. I certainly remember one about calf rearing I don’t think they run that nowadays do they? And there was a little group called The Agricultural Training Board and they did little courses, so you could learn. The hard way usually, you know, you make mistakes…your neighbour helped you as well – you were an apprentice in some ways… absolutely, and there were other people in the valley. Harry Log at Egypt, he was a real character. I can remember I was trying to calve a cow on day and he was just going past – he came up the field and gave me a hand, that’s what it was like you know when I first moved up. You never locked your door, you just didn’t need to. If you went visiting, you’d knock, open the door, shout ‘hello’ and walk in, that’s how it was.

People were quite welcoming of you then because you must have sounded different to everyone else?

Yes, definitely. I can remember away from the farming, there used to be a pub at Midgley, I forgotten its’ name now, I can’t remember, sorry – I can remember going in there one night and the landlord made quite a fuss of us and was very welcoming. We got the feeling that we would be welcome again you know, and we’d been a time or two and somebody sort of said something, and we realised that it was the accents they liked – it gave the place a bit of class [low key laughing]! They thought the accent was good.

So you didn’t get any bad feelings for being outsiders then?

Certainly not in the immediate area, no…no, people were very nice.

What did you do in terms of farming – you had cows on the farm, and anything else?

To start with…small farms in this sort of area, they never make a wage and I don’t think they ever have, hence you know in days gone by, the dual economy with weaving, hand weaving, and they certainly didn’t in the sixties, you couldn’t make a living, so then my husband worked and I looked after the farm and we started, well what we did initially was what they call multiple suckling…i.e. by a dairy cow who is probably past her prime, or for some reason isn’t favoured in a dairy herd, and she has a calf, and because of because of being a dairy cow she’s got far too much milk for one calf, you foster another one on and sometimes another you know two extras.

People paid you to do that then?

No, well you’d sell the calf and gradually we built up a pedigree herd of Welsh Blacks and also went into sheep, but I’d rear things like turkeys and ducks, I had a few goats and a few horses.

It sounds like you learnt a lot then.
Oh yes, yes. But I also had little jobs myself…I went to work for the Tourist Information in 1975 [pause], stayed there off and on till I retired three years ago.

Did they get many tourists in those days?

Oh no, because Hebden Bridge, it was beginning to pick up but it was still…there was still empty shops and the stone cleaning had improved the appearance of the town…but it was still a bit bleak you know. Believe it or not, you couldn’t a cup o’ tea on a Sunday and there were hardly any postcards [chuckling]…you know it’s changed very much since then, but there was a feeling against tourists was there? ‘cos the then Tourist Information Centre when I went to work…it opened in ‘74 and it was just in…do you know where the fish and chip shop has opened, that side, which is the fish and chip shop as opposed to the restaurant, well the Tourist Information Centre was in there to start with, and then they expanded into what is now that restaurant and I think it cost £35,000 refurbish it and people thought ‘what a waste of money’ you know, there was a lot of….we had a brick through the window one day, yes…there was ill feeling, ill feeling.

Why did people feel so strongly then, just ‘cos of the money?

I think they thought it was a waste of time – tourism was a waste of time – who would want to come to Hebden Bridge? how interesting! [both laughing] nothing’s changed!

Tell me a little bit more about Colden and what that was like in those days. Were there many shops or…you know?

When I first went to live up there, there was a little shop at Edge Hey Green, just a tiny one. Now I can’t remember when May’s shop started – have you ever come across May’s shop? Oh yes. I think the Edge Hey Green shop closed, probably in the early seventies 70’s? [ph]…and it was something May had always wanted to do, and so from what I remember she just started with like an ice cream fridge and a bag of potatoes you know, and built up from that. Because they were farming then as well oh yes, they were…when I first went there, they were quite big in…battery hens, egg farm and turkeys at Christmas. I think it was my first Christmas there…Harry that I’ve mentioned before worked for Michael at the farm – May’s husband Michael – and he fed hens, that was his job, and did a bit of egg collecting I think, but come Christmas time, all hands went to plucking turkeys and…I mean I went to live up there in September, so by Christmas I was still a bit raw and Harry mentioned a job at Michael’s plucking turkeys…’oh no I don’t fancy that’ no, I didn’t fancy that. He said ‘well come and pick eggs’ as they call it – pick up eggs and grade them. ‘yes okay, I’ll come and do that but I don’t want nothing to do with turkeys’ …so there I was at the egg grading machine and May’s brother Glyn comes in…there were several of us round this egg grading machine, and May’s brother Glyn comes in and says ‘alright, come on then’ and I thought ‘what does he mean?’ so anyway, the others trouped off after him so I meekly followed on into the turkey plucking shed [both laughing], so I got my Baptism…I was the sort that said ‘oh no, I don’t wanna do this’ so I got me Baptism in plucking turkeys!

Was it horrible?

It wasn’t so bad actually, particularly if there’s a group of you and you’re chatting away…so yes, I learnt another skill – plucking [chuckling].

You said earlier on that it was…that you came at the end of an era.

Yes, yeh…you see I inherited the working horse, there was Harry with his horse, there was somebody across the valley still working with horses…and there was just something about that sort of way of life, I suppose everything was slower and…I think there was only the one vehicle, there was only one person with a vehicle past me and so people were walking up and down the road you know, a neighbour walked a child to school and you stopped and talked. And then gradually the horses were replaced by tractors, people got vehicles and the talking stopped because you’re driving past…you know, it just changed.

And in the old days then did people used to go down into Hebden Bridge for things, or did they mostly shop within the village?

As I say, there was only one tiny shop at Colden (or Edge Hey Green), and so you would probably go down into Hebden Bridge for your main shop once a week or something like that. Walking then mostly? No, there was a bus – I mean from where I lived it was a mile to the bus stop, but you just accepted that in those days. But most food you’d buy up there then? Yes, yes. I mean when May’s shop got going, really got going, then you could live out of that – I have done, particularly in the winter when you’re snowed in.

Did you get snowed in a lot then?

Ooh yes, yes – you expected it every winter! I certainly did when I moved there – come sort of October November I started stocking up, expecting it. Harry that lived at the end at Egypt, I mean he did – he would stock up lots of flour and dried stuff in tins and that sort of thing, because he could actually be snowed up for about three months, but snowed up means you can’t get a vehicle down. You could always get out on foot, you know if it means walking on wall tops – you’re never that stuck.

And you did have to do that sometimes – walking on the walls?

We did yes – good fun, particularly if we’d been down to the local pub and had to walk home again after a few! [laughing]

Where did you drink – the New Delight?

The New Delight, yes.

What was that like in those days?

Oh it were great in those days, particularly on winter’s nights, particularly when…it was Jack and Molly had it in those days and I can remember a few good winter’s nights when it was Jack’s night off and Molly was running the bar – there’d just be a few of us and you trudged down in all your gear and then just sit round the fire, a little group, you’d buy a drink in turn and if it was your turn to buy a drink you’d go to the bar, get the drinks, put money in the till because Molly was sitting round the fire with us, and it was great, yes.

Did they have any entertainment or anything up there?

No, we didn’t need it, I mean apart from a game of darts or something like that.

What else did people do socially as well?

Do you know, it’s strange when I think of how my life has changed and all the things that I do now, there wasn’t much to do. I suppose you worked hard and…but didn’t go out, you know, we’d go to the Newdy as we called it but no, there weren’t things to do, not up there you know, obviously pictures and that in Hebden Bridge but I think there’s a lot more going on now than there was then. When I think of places like Blackshaw Head, there’s a lot going on there now which there didn’t used to be.

So people just stayed in their homes really?

Yes, lit the fire and drew the curtains and stayed there.

The cinema was there though was it?

In Hebden Bridge? Oh yes, yes.

So that was there when you arrived was it?


Who used to go there then?

It would be the younger ones. I don’t remember going to the cinema much. I can remember going into Halifax once or twice when there were cinemas in Halifax, but perhaps it was the isolation – you didn’t go out much. I go out a lot more now.

Did you used to go anywhere else – when you say you used to go to Halifax sometimes?

Yes, or Burnley, because living up at Colden it was as easy to go across the moor to Burnley and I suppose coming from a big town, Burnley suited better to start with than Hebden Bridge. There wasn’t a lot in Hebden Bridge I the late sixties, not for someone that’s come from a town.

And things started to change in Hebden Bridge then – more outsiders started coming – can you remember much about that?

In some respects yes, it was almost as if we’d started an avalanche and I mean I don’t really know how it happens. I can certainly remember somebody saying when we had a sort of hippie invasion that there’d been something scrawled on a wall in St Ives about Hebden Bridge telling people to come here? yes, because it was possible to…we had squatters of houses, because you couldn’t get a mortgage on sort of – I mean this where I’m living is an under-dwelling and you couldn’t get mortgages on properties like this in those days so they were just standing empty and going to rack and ruin, and in some respects the people that came in and squatted have saved some of the heritage of our area, ‘cos so much went – so many of the properties went in the sixties collapsed? demolished? Well no, they were considered sub-standard and nobody would put investment into them because as I say you couldn’t get mortgages.

So people started arriving from outside?

Yes, we had all sorts including the tee-pee tribe! Tell me a bit about them. They’d be walking around in blankets and I’ve forgotten just where it was…they had a bit of an encampment. So they were living in tee-pees were they? yes.

Where had they come from then, do you know?

No I don’t know where they came from. Now whether these were the St Ives crowd I don’t know.

So they walked around in blankets then?


And what did people make of that then?

I don’t think they were very popular! [both laughed]. I can remember some of my colleagues in the Information Centre you know, that was when the aerosol under the counter came into being because you [laughing] needed to spray the place when they’d gone out! But they didn’t last that long – I think they went off to Wales, it might have been more favourable towards them.

Another male person speaking:
Was that about the time of the moonies as well?

I don’t remember the moonies. Was that another sect?

You can say something about the moonies if you like.

Male person: well no, I was just wondering if Anne knew anything about the moonies. It was one of those things the press had a field day criticising you know.

So what were the people like who lived here then– they went to chapel?

Yes, the churches and chapels were more popular in those days. There was down in Hebden Bridge a feeling against incomers you know, you definitely did feel it in certain places, not everywhere. Some people were welcoming, but no there was a feeling against off-comers, yes.

But you hadn’t experienced that so much yourself?

No, not where I lived, no. A nice bunch of people where I lived and it wasn’t so long before others moved into the valley so you know, I was not alone as an incomer, but in actual fact Harry that adopted me was an incomer himself – he’d come from East Yorkshire so you know it wasn’t…it was perhaps more, there were more incomers on the hills than in the actual town. It was in the town of Hebden Bridge that you felt that you were different. That’s interesting.

Did people rent the farms then?

No, not the majority of them. There were people like up on the moors where you know the Water Board owned the land – that was rented, but the majority of the small farms were owned.

Can you remember anything about any special occasions or big events?

The biggest event that I took part in was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and you know there was a good feeling in the town for that and we had a parade and I joined in that with a horse and cart, and a friend’s daughter sat on the cart dressed as a Rule Britannia, but it was a lovely, jolly occasion that we planned for weeks and…I was obviously working for the Tourist Information then and you know we’d sort of decorated up and Muriel, a colleague, made a fantastic replica crown that went in the window and so there was a big procession through town? Yes, there was. It was a jolly day.

Were you the only one on a horse and cart or did other people come down?

There were other horses but I think I was the only farm there sent in, but er yes, I had a white horse and a blue car you know and trimmed it in red you know, really did the thing…it was good, it was good.

Did people have street parties as well?

No we didn’t do street parties in Hebden Bridge, I suppose we did the procession and then went onto the field – you know Calder Holmes, or the park I should say, we went on to Calder Homes. I mean other places had street parties but we didn’t.

And what did you do in the park then?

Oh it was just side shows and the usual thing that you have at these dos but it was good because it was a lovely day. You won’t remember that will you? What year was it? Was it 19..not 1977 was it? That’s it – 1977 oh I do remember, yes – I was about eighteen I think. Where were you then? I was in London, I’d just gone to London, yes.

Do you remember any other special events here – Christmas, Easter or any…

Not when I was living on the farm, not really ‘cos although we were friendly, there wasn’t the sort of community if you know what I mean – nothing done jointly or anything like that, so no, it was very much at Christmas you kept to yourself.

I’m just wondering how have things changed since than and now?

[pause] There are so many changes – people I think with an increase in affluence, people keep more to themselves in some respects. When I went up there, there was an openness. Doors were open and people were helping each other, but it was quite a close community in that respect. People didn’t travel far – I mean Rene, Harry’s wife next door, she had a little job in Hebden Bridge so she came down on the bus and back every day, but she never went anywhere else and I mean Widdop Road is not far from Colden but she’d never been down Widdop Road and seen the reservoirs, so that I think is a great change. I mean once people get into cars then they’re sort of moving around more and there’s a lot more sort of integration in areas than there was then.

Does it look different now to what it used to do?

Yes, it was just…I mean the Colden valley was a farming valley, be that good or bad, you know you get your bad bits – you get the rusty old equipment lying around and properties were not looked after so much, but now with the increase in property prices, different people are moving in – I mean there’s very few farmers now and the properties have all been done up. There’s a lot more foliage, you know trees and plants and that, it just looks completely different.

I wonder why there’s more foliage then, ‘cos things haven’t been ploughed and mowed?

People have more time because they’re not… farming very much a time-consuming I see yes, so gardens instead yes, gardens instead. I mean the first two or three winters that I lived up at Colden when there was no traffic up and down, the old horse – I mean he was an old horse and he’d lived there probably for forty years – he knew his territory and I just used to open all the field gates and he could wander where he wanted, and he’d wander the roadside, the verges so you could let him out on to the road then? Yes, just to let him go where he wanted. He knew more than I did you see. I can remember one night, it was snowing and blowing and foul, and I went out to try and get him in ‘cos he had a stable – he didn’t want to come in and he knew; the weather blew away and it was fine the next morning so you just left him out? Yeh, he didn’t want to come in and I think that taught me a lesson, after that I just used to say ‘Prince, do you want to come in?’ open the gate you know, and if he wanted to come in, he came and if he didn’t want to come in he didn’t. Imagine that now! You couldn’t do it now, not with cars up and down. Oh yes, he knew more than I did, he certainly knew more about weather.

So the winters were hard were they then?

[pause] There was more snow, but that isn’t necessarily hard; a lot of wind and rain is harder than snow, you know when you’re working. It’s harder on animals; there’s nothing colder than rain in winter but…I think when you’re farming and you know you’ve got your jobs to do, you just get on and do them whereas I wouldn’t want to live up the hilltops without farming if you know what I mean – it must be hard when you’ve got to put up with the weather, but not for a good reason if you know what I mean.

So in the end you moved from up there and came here to Cragg Vale then did you?


And when did you make that move to come here?

I came up 1st of January 1986 so I’ve been here twenty one years.

Do you think things have changed since 1986?

What here? The biggest change is the amount of traffic up and down the road you know, it was quite quiet twenty years ago but…I mean it’s not too bad today because it’s a Saturday but there seems to be a lot of traffic up and down, and at rush hour time it really is quite busy.

So there are a lot more commuters here now?

Oh yes, yes…well there’s not a lot of work in the immediate vicinity.

That must be one big change really isn’t it? People used to work…

People used to work within walking or bussing distance of where they lived.

So is there anything else that you want to tell me that we haven’t covered or do you fell that that’s…?

Male person speaking:

I was just going to ask, perhaps you could explain really what saved these buildings. You were saying about the squatters having saved them, but there was a very good reason why ultimately they were all saved and mortgages were granted.

When I first worked for the Tourist Information Centre, my boss was a guy called Philip Round who was on the local Town Council and he and…was David on the Town Council then, David Fletcher? Yes and a lady called Judith Young, various others who I’ve forgotten, but they realised the potential of this property and the significance of the fact that you couldn’t get mortgages, and they instigated a change to the Housing Act – I can’t remember what year but it was about 1984 I think – it wasn’t that long before I came here, and it was specific in those days, I don’t know if it’s changed since, it was the Hebden Royd Act and this made it…the effect of this was if you lived in an under-dwelling and the owners of the dwelling above neglected for instance the roof to such an extent that the water came through into your property, it gave you the right to take them to court to repair the damage and because of that act, it suddenly became possible to get mortgages. Now I bought this place – I came here in 1986 but I rented it to start with, it could have been about 1987 or 1988 when I bought it and I couldn’t believe it – the solicitor I dealt with in Hebden Bridge did not know about this Act of Parliament – I had to tell him, but I suppose I know because of working for somebody that was involved in it. I think he actually went down to London you know when it went through Parliament, so you know it was really significant that suddenly you could get mortgages on these properties and it was worth putting money into them to save them. If it hadn’t been for that, a lot more would have gone.

Male speaker:
The town wouldn’t be what we know it today would it?

No, I mean there’s an awful lot that has gone.

It sounds have it looked quite derelict in a way when you first arrived.

There were a lot of very run-down, I wouldn’t say they were derelict but they were sad, you know, unloved.

The mills were open then were they in 1968?

There were mills open, yes; I can remember a few shutting but yes, I remember…
Male speaker: and burning down, there was a lot of fires wasn’t there? There were fires, yes. But yes, I can remember the weaving shed on Valley Road, walking past that. On a summer’s day when they’d got the big doors open you actually see the looms, you could almost hear them.

Male speaker: was there a lot of demolition after you arrived, I mean in the sixties there was wholesale demolition wasn’t there?

That had happened just before I got here – yeh, I don’t remember the Buttress or Back High Street these were streets where the houses had to be knocked down?… I don’t remember them, I didn’t see them but I can remember being in the Information Centre coming in asking for an address on Back High Street, I think it was Back High Street, and I didn’t know what on earth they were talking about, but then we had an old street map, or Ordnance Survey, that showed it so I was able to find it on that map and say ‘oh yes, this is where it was but it’s no longer there, it’s all been pulled down’. So yes, I think that the buildings had gone but the landscaping hadn’t taken place or taken hold when I came so the area didn’t…I mean like at the bottom of Heptonstall Road now, it’s all grass and trees and what have you, it’s many years, it’s established, but it’s it had only just been knocked down yes, so the place did look a bit miserable. I tell you what I do remember – as an incomer what was surprising was Wakes Weeks – oh dear! that took a little bit of getting used to, the fact that the town was dead, you know. So everything closed? Everything closed. Male speaker: Except Alice. Except Alice, well she was hardly… Alice? Alice Longstaff. The photographer’s then.
Male speaker: she opened up on a Saturday didn’t she for the week so people when they came back from their holidays could bring their films in to be processed – she didn’t miss a trick did Alice. She didn’t did she.

It didn’t help those of us living here who wanted provisions.

What weeks were Wakes Weeks, can you remember? One was in September wasn’t it?

There was a week in September and two weeks in July, although in actual fact the town was only sort of dead for about a week in July.

The mills closed, the shops closed, and where did people go then?

Well I think in the early days they just went off to Blackpool or Scarborough didn’t they? Those were the main, but as time went on they’d get more adventurous, but those were the traditional places.

And you just couldn’t buy anything then? That was it?

Fortunately, Wakes Weeks were staggered in different towns so you could go somewhere else you could go somewhere else, just as well for those of us that didn’t have holidays.

‘cos you as farmers didn’t have holidays

No, you can’t.

So you never went anywhere?


Do you remember any other events that went on in Hebden Bridge – things like Dock Pudding or things like that?

Not in those days – I don’t think it had been revived then, had it? No.

Male speaker: it’s more recent isn’t it?

And did you go to chapel yourself?

Not in those days.

But most people did do that did they?

I wouldn’t say so no, not from the farms, it was much more a village thing. The chapels closed because there was a chapel at Colden, Broadstone
Male speaker: ooh yes, Broadstone – a big one. I remember it, because when we moved in that was one of the things we had to plan carefully because the chapel was right up to the road and there was a litte…a stone above the door, not exactly a porch, but a stone above the door and we could not have got a standard removal vehicle past it.

Which road was that on then?

The Colden..[incomp] where May’s is now.
Male speaker: big bungalow now isn’t there on the site, we saw it didn’t we?

No, sorry no, different chapel. It’s not Broadstone. What do they call the one at May’s?

So there were two chapels?
Broadstone’s the one where there is a bungalow now, but there was one at May’s, the stones are there [all talking together] male speaker: where people park their cars that was a chapel. Dear oh dear…Highgate, but May’s is Highgate Farm – you just forget the name nowadays, yes – Highgate Chapel.

So a lot of people used to use that then?

Well they will have done, but I think it was closed by the time I came here.

Male speaker: so when did Cross Lanes chapel go? Did that go whilst you were here or had that gone?

I think that may have gone.

Male speaker: because there was an awful lot of chapels wasn’t there?

There were a staggering number of them.

Do you think people weren’t attending them as much as they had done in the past?

No, and of course there’d be a certain element of em..,.oh dear, I can’t think of the term…people had moved away because the work was going so people had moved away; you know places like below where I used to live was Salt Pie, now I’m sure that was six back-to-back cottages. that’s near Rudmer Clough. That’s right, just the other side of the river from Rudmer Clough.
So there was a mill down there as well wasn’t there?

Yes, so there’d be lots more people living in the valley in days gone by and by the time I’d arrived I think Salt Pie was empty when I arrived and that mill wasn’t being used anymore oh no, that had gone, that had gone.

‘cos there were a lot of mills in the woods in Colden weren’t there?

Oh yes, yeh. I just wish I could get into a Tardis and see it how it was. because they weren’t there when you arrived. oh no,no.

So what happened to all of them, because there’s the odd chimney isn’t there, were they demolished do you think?

I should think they’ve just fallen down, I dare say they were assisted in their falling down because people would re-use the stone.

Male speaker: there is quite a lot of remains but it’s all covered with foliage

But none of that was used, there were just a few mills left in Hebden.

In Hebden Bridge, yes. There was one at the bottom of the Colden valley still there.

What brought about the decline then in the hilltop farming? Was it economies of scale?

Probably. Or was it incomers coming in and buying the property? The hill tops farms were at their height I would think at the time of the Napoleonic wars when you know, they wanted the wool for uniforms so sheep and what have you were the thing, but then they declined and it’s something that’s continuing now – as you say, scale. I mean now, the bigger you are…for instance dairy farmers – a big dairy farmer will get more for his milk than a little dairy farmer because it costs more to collect it from a little bit.

And you used to sell your livestock, calves and that?


Was that the only…you said you had the other jobs as well, but in terms of farming…

That was the only output, yes.

Where did you take them to market?

To start with we’d sell to a dealer, but then we’d take them to market, or get them taken to market at Skipton, that was the local one, Huddersfield, there was a market at Huddersfield – it was quite a good one.

We’ve got about five minutes left, if there’s anything else that you feel you want to say.

Male speaker: when did tourism start? I mean, you know you go back 100 years and it was a very popular destination wasn’t it?

Hardcastle Crags was popular.

Male speaker: was it still popular when you came?

Oh it had declined very much to what it had been because people had more choice – I mean back in…what was the time when people started going out to the hills – about the thirties wasn’t it? You know, going out hiking, that became the thing but it was really the advent of the motor car which caused people to…they’d got more money and one thing leads to another doesn’t it? People became more affluent and so more mobile and so they travelled further, had more choice, and so that I think is why Hardcastle Crags declined to what it had been in its heyday; when they came by the train load and people were exploring a little further afield, but then by virtue of publicity and encouragement, I think people started to come back and rediscover this area and Hardcastle Crags.
‘cos things have changed from people putting bricks through the Tourist Office window haven’t they?

Yes they have, but I don’t think there’s as much promotion of tourism in this area now as there was a few years back.

Male speaker: what do you think makes this area so unique?

I mean the thing that attracted me as a townie, what attracted me to this area, was the fact that I think it has everything [emphasis on everything] – you’ve got wonderful landscape, you’ve got the hills, the moors, the valleys, but you’ve got civilisation within easy reach, you know you’ve got all the town facilities if you want them but you’re living in a delightful area.

So it was a lucky move for you really?

Partially yes…yes it was. Partially decided, you know consciously decided, because my then husband would really have quite liked to go up to the wilds of Scotland but I wasn’t prepared to do that and I was right – this is a fascinating area and it’s got so much history…you know it’s a rural area now but it has so much history, like we were talking about the Colden valley – you go walking in a lovely leafy valley with a pretty river but you’ve got all this industrial archaeology, it’s just something else to think about – you know, you’ve got your beauty, you’ve got your wildlife, but you’ve got the other interests as well and there’s just so much.

I suppose just as a last thing really – what do you make of all the changes that you’ve seen in the past what is it – nearly forty years?

Oh mixed, mixed – some of it…I mean people generally speaking, people are better off, the majority of people don’t have to work as hard as they used to have to do, they’re better fed and better clothed but I think they’ve lost something; we’ve lost a lot of simplicity and I think children have lost a lot because they haven’t the freedom that they used to have, I mean where I was brought up it was a big town; I lived on the edge of it and you know the park, golf course, woods, countryside, and from quite an early age I was able to with a friend, just to go out and wander and explore. Kids can’t do that now and I think they’ve lost a lot. Materially they have an awful lot more, but I don’t think it’s necessarily better for them; I think they’ve lost a lot of innocence I suppose, but that’s everywhere, it’s not just here; that’s everywhere isn’t it?

What bits of the changes do you think have been good – just in terms of material things is it?

I think so yes, that’s the good bit but there’s a down side as well. Although in some respects, some communities have rediscovered community if you know what I mean, you know, it went but it’s been rediscovered like in Blackshaw Head or in Midgley, male speaker: Hebden Bridge to a lesser extent yes, less in Hebden Bridge I think.

Your children had a different life really then?

Oh yes. There was a family that lived right at the top end of the Colden valley and they walked to school occasionally, I think they did actually get ponies but they were barefoot. Just imagine that now – there’d be an outcry!

It’s not that long ago is it?

Male speaker: I can remember that – it was a couple, you used to see them in Hebden Bridge with his daughter.

Even in Hebden Bridge they’d be barefoot?

Male speaker: yes, they used to come down from the tops.

There’d be an outcry if you did that now.

Absolutely – in cold weather as well! Well that’s fantastic…


About Us

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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Pennine Heritage Ltd.
The Birchcliffe Centre
Hebden Bridge

Phone: 01422 844450
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