The Hebden Bridge Local History Society with Sheila Graham: Meeting celebrates 70 great years

Hebden History: Members celebrated the society's 70th birthday at the annual general meeting.
Hebden History: Members celebrated the society's 70th birthday at the annual general meeting.

The annual general meeting of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society gave president Barbara Atack and members of the society the opportunity to celebrate its 70th birthday by looking back over the years at some of the people and events that have marked its long life.

There was a curious coincidence about the very first meeting of the society in August 1949 – it took place in the front room of the Crown Street home of Barbara’s future father in law, Cedric Atack, one of its founder members. The Local History Society was one of a number of offspring of the Literary and Scientific Society, which since 1905 had been meeting the ‘thirst for knowledge’ of the people of Hebden Bridge.

The History society soon began its lecture series, with Hebden Bridge Grammar School (Riverside) as its base. Head teacher Colin Spencer served as President for over three decades, and is remembered for his book,

Other stalwarts of the committee included Winnie Greenwood, who was the longest serving treasurer and Frank Woolrych, who was Barbara’s predecessor as president for twelve years.

One of the jewels of the society is its archive of documents of local interest donated by local people and organisations. The archive has had many homes from Hope Sunday School to an attic room in the old Tourist Information Centre, but thanks to Pennine Heritage it now has a safe place in the Birchcliffe Centre.

The annual programme of talks continue to attract new members.

The society has organised some longer term courses, notably those run by the late Alan Petford. These in turn have encouraged members to conduct their own research and to give talks to the society.

Over recent years the society has published a number of books covering a range of topics, from the First World War to Dawson city and the meticulously transcribed 17th Century probate documents and most recently the story of the Hebden Bridge clothing industry.

It was good to be reminded of the work the society does locally – volunteers successfully completing churchyard inscriptions from Heptonstall and making them available online and the support given to saving the Pace Egg Play stand out.

Recently there have been popular exhibitions in the Town Hall, with the story of ‘How the hippies changed Hebden Bridge’ being especially memorable.

The society welcomes new members and visitors to meetings at Hebden Bridge Methodist Church on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. Details of the talks programme and of archive opening times are available on the website and you can find out about publications there too.

You can also keep in touch on our Facebook page.