Grand Depart hits the right note

Cyclists pulling a mini-grand piano from Mytholmroyd up Cragg Vale, to Blackstone Edge, the longest continuous incline in England. Part of the Tour de France Grand Depart, Yorkshire Festival

Cyclists pulling a mini-grand piano from Mytholmroyd up Cragg Vale, to Blackstone Edge, the longest continuous incline in England. Part of the Tour de France Grand Depart, Yorkshire Festival

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Thousands of spectators lined the streets to watch pianists play a grand piano pulled by bicycles along England’s longest continuous incline - from Mytholmroyd to Blackstone Edge, via Cragg Vale.

Organised by Imove and Hebden Bridge Piano Festival, the Grand Depart cycle challenge is part of Yorkshire Festival 2014 - celebrating 100 days of the arts ahead of the Tour de France in Yorkshire.

Starting from St Michael’s Church car park in Mytholmroyd, over a dozen cyclists pulled a six foot grand piano along Cragg Road up to the top of Cragg Vale as 16 local and international pianists performed non-stop pieces of music from PianoCycle - written especially for the occasion by event artistic director Dave Nelson.

Mr Nelson said: “It’s amazing to think this all started with a bit of idle chat over a glass of wine. Now we’re here with a vehicle the size of an articulated lorry and a team of over 100 people making this crazy idea actually happen.”

Onlooker and Mytholmroyd resident, Brenda Greenwood, said: “It’s been brilliant so far - it’s really getting us in the spirit for the Tour de France. It’s a great way to promote our village as a lot of people don’t know were here or even how to pronounce it - this will certainly put us on the map.”

Watching from the front door of her property, Angela Kindon, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to watch the action from my house. I can’t wait for the Tour de France, I’ve always wanted to see it so the fact it’s coming past our house is amazing.”

Onlooker and local resident, Irene Neville, said the Grand Depart was something different for the village.

The Old Fire Station Studio opened its community arts doors on Cragg Vale Road for the first time. Nina Wardcock said: “This is a great opportunity for us to show the world what we do and to show people what beautiful landscape we have. It’s great to see the village so full of people.”

Mytholmroyd’s St Michael’s Church got involved with the community spirit of the weekend’s Grand Depart with a fayre organised by Handmade Arts Market Committee.

The church hall was filled with shoppers and stall holders selling handmade crafts, clothing, jewellery, artwork and more.

In the foyer, homemade cakes and beverages were served to a backdrop of live music.

Michelle Campbell, specialised Tour de France artwork stall holder, said: “The event has been fantastic for Mytholmroyd - there’s been tonnes of people around.”

Gossbag knitwear stall holder, Annie Lawson, said the event, which brought hundreds to the village on April 5, was great for business and gave a boost to the village.

Leader of guild of St Michael’s Church, Trish Patrick, said: “It’s been a wonderful turnout and we’ve sold many coffees and cakes with the proceeds going to church funds - we desperately need to repair our crumbling spire, so today will be a big help towards that.”

On the morning of the Tour de France on July 6, the church will serve hot bacon and beef sandwiches to the crowds.

Hebden Bridge’s Handmade Arts Market Committee said it would like to thank the people of Mytholmroyd for supporting the Grand Depart and for putting up with some disruption to their normally quiet life.