Local History Group

Flying the Flag for the 21st Century

Formed in 1949, the Local History Section (now Hebden Bridge Local History Society) is effectively the voice of the HBLSS, together with the Astronomy Society flying the flag for the 21st century.

A nucleus of seven members headed by first president Barber Gledhill set the wheels in motion in August and two months later the first public meeting was held at Hebden Bridge Grammar School, attended by 25 people. Membership rapidly grew to 80 and has rarely fallen below 100 ever since.

Over the decades hundreds of books, documents and photographs have been collected and now form an invaluable archive. The society has also produced its own publications, most notably “The History of Hebden Bridge” (1991) and “A Century of Change” (1999), both written by former president Colin Spencer. The latest is “Heptonstall Town Trail,” published in 2005 in conjunction with Pennine Heritage.

Thanks to a Lottery award the society was able to purchase a laptop and multimedia projector and in 2001 a website –
www.hebdenbridgehistory.org.uk – was created.

Leslie M. Goldthorpe succeeded Mr Gledhill as president in 1953, followed by Colin Spencer in 1957. Mr Spencer was chairman twice and served on the committee until just before his death in 2003. His long and distinguished contribution to the society cannot be over-estimated.

Frank Woolrych, who took over from Mike Tilley in 2000, is also president of the HBLSS and custodian of the Alice Longstaff Gallery Collection which has close links with the society. The partnership started over 10 years ago when Frank and fellow trustees Beryl Woolrych and Lloyd Greenwood became members and has resulted in jointly-organised exhibitions and illustrated talks to many local community groups, while the mammoth task of cataloguing and scanning into computer the collections of both organisations continues.

Following the closure of the former Tourist Information Centre four years ago the society lost its home and meetings are now held at Hope Baptist Church; the collections are housed in a local mill. Hebden Bridge Astronomy Society also meets at the church on a monthly basis between September and May and members publish a magazine, “Cosmos.” Further details from Len Entwisle 01422 378368; len.entwisle@btopenworld.com

The societies are indebted to the Rev Stanley Kirby and David E. Fletcher for their help.