A small town with a big personality, Hebden Bridge is a myriad of art, community, and heart.

A powerhouse for the Industrial Revolution, the place has come a long way from its water powered weaving mills that once dominated the area. In fact, it was so synonymous for its clothing manufacturing that it became known as ‘Trouser Town’. Refusing to leave its innovative identity in the past, Hebden Bridge is a hubbub of creativity with a strong artistic community, not just in the many independent shops and galleries that can be found dotted around the town, but with unique initiatives such as the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival, and Hebden Bridge Open Studios, both dedicated to celebrating inspiring artists within the community.

Great British Life: The famous Hebden Bridge Picture House. (c) NQ PhotographersThe famous Hebden Bridge Picture House. (c) NQ Photographers

Quirky and a lot kookier than its neighbouring towns of Halifax and Todmorden, Hebden Bridge has received a variety of accolades over the years including being voted the fourth funkiest town in the world by British Airways, branded “a rain soaked paradise” by the Guardian, and winning the Best Small Market Town at the Great British High Street Awards, to name but a few. However, it was the BBC crime drama series Happy Valley that really put it on the map, since then the town has welcomed increased popularity in what was an already booming tourist haven. Being highly inclusive it plays host to the very popular, and aptly named, Happy Valley Pride every year, and is also known for its large vegan community and boasts serious sustainability credentials being one of the first places in the country to ban plastic bags. And if it’s good enough for Sylvia Path and Ed Sheeran, then it's good enough for us!

Great British Life: Take a gander around the shops on Market Street. (c) NQ PhotographersTake a gander around the shops on Market Street. (c) NQ Photographers


If it’s shopping that you’re here for, you’ve come to the right place, but don’t expect your usual high street chain shops. Buying local is the aim of the game here and it’s a way to embrace. Artisan shops and inspiring galleries make up the blueprint of this bohemian town, but at its heart is where we must start – the market. For four days a week, Old Lees Yard just off St George’s Square is taken over by 40 stalls with vendors showcasing different wares each day. The award-winning open market is open 9am to 4pm with Thursdays featuring fresh produce and wider retail, Fridays are for second hand goods, Saturday discover arts, crafts and artisan products, and Sundays are focussed around local produce and food.

Just down from the market sits Lucy and the Caterpillar – a vintage shop selling handpicked items from the 1930s – while a couple of minutes away is the town’s main thoroughfare – Market Street. Find yourself conflicted as you discover boutique gems – do you shout about them to your friends or keep them as your little secret spots?

Some of our favourites include Sprials - a delightful place to go for eco-friendly and locally made gifts, The Book Case because who doesn’t love an indie bookshop, The Afghan Rug Shop is an absolute treasure trove, while Totally Awesome is all fun and games.

Great British Life: Cafe culture in Hebden Bridge. (c) NQ PhotographersCafe culture in Hebden Bridge. (c) NQ Photographers

Foodies are well catered for with over a dozen busy cafes to choose from. In an evening make your way to Nelsons Wine Bar specialising in plant-based food and vegan wines. Entertainment comes in the form of the 1920s independent Picture House, Hebden Bridge Little Theatre for a bit of drama or the world-renowned Trades Club – one of the best loved music venues that’s played host to some seriously big names.

Of course, being nestled in the Calder Valley with its stunning scenery makes it a magnet for walkers, runners, and cyclists alike. Make your way to the South Pennine beauty spot that is Hardcastle Crags to enjoy over 400 acres of serene, unspoilt woodland. For a more genteel stroll potter along the picturesque banks of Rochdale Canal that weaves through the centre of the town. Or even better, hop on a traditional narrowboat with Hebden Bridge Cruises.

Great British Life: Houses in Hebden Bridge. (c) NQ PhotographersHouses in Hebden Bridge. (c) NQ Photographers

Bag a property

Harking back to a slower way of life, Hebden Bridge has become one of the most desirable places to live in Yorkshire thanks to its welcoming ways, community spirit and sustainable credentials. Add to that it’s perfectly located between Manchester and Leeds, and it becomes an ideal commuter town. Education is well catered for with many primary schools in the town and secondary schools not too far away, including some prestigious grammar schools. A Co-Op and a Sainsburys can be found in the town, along with a plethora of independent food shops and a larger Morrisons in nearby Todmorden.

With a population of around 4,500 people, not a lot of space and tricky building conditions thanks to steep valleys, architects had to get inventive in the past which led to ‘upstairs downstairs’ houses. Also known as under and over dwellings, these terrace houses form four to five storeys and consist of one house in the bottom two stories and the other house taking the rest. Most of these can be found in the centre, while a short walk lay tiny streets home to cottages and apartments. Spacious family homes and stunning views can be found in the surrounding countryside.

According to Rightmove, properties in Hebden Bridge had an overall average price of £258,863 over the last year. The majority of sales in the town were terraced properties, selling for an average of £226,953. Semi-detached houses sold for an average of £292,524, while flats fetched £168,684.

Great British Life: John Noble-Milner. (c) Hebden Bridge Open StudiosJohn Noble-Milner. (c) Hebden Bridge Open Studios

Town Life

John Noble-Milner is a potter and sculptor based in Hebden Bridge where he’s known as the wildlife sculptor ‘Geckoman’. He is one of the driving forces behind Hebden Bridge Open Studios that sees artists and makers across the town open their doors to the public to chat, see, buy, and learn. Organising this year’s event that took place in July, John managed to get 107 artists involved in the initiative. ‘We're blessed with a very friendly community of artists in and around Hebden Bridge - I think that's why so many new artists move here each year, it's a ready-set melting pot of welcoming and supportive makers and creatives!’ he explains. Make your way down to the town on the first weekend in December to experience it for yourself. Hebdenbridgeopenstudios.org