On location: How historical TV drama The Gallows Pole has put spotlight on 'coiners village' Cragg Vale and properties in 'des-res' upper Calder Valley
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The recent three part BBC series, set and filmed around Cragg Vale, Heptonstall and Castle Carr above Booth in the Luddenden Valley, has given some of Calderdale’s most remote countryside and picturesque villages, hidden away in the south Pennines, a national audience.
The drama tells the story of the coiners, famous in the 18th century for making counterfeit money to the point where they almost crashed the Bank of England.
And similar to the impact of locally filmed hit TV shows like Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax and Gentleman Jack series, where ‘Callywood’s’ stunning locations brought tourists flocking to the district, it is expected the exposure around the coiners’ old haunts will draw in more visitors and house-hunters to the Calder Valley and its ‘des-res’ communities and homes.
Estate agents have no doubt that showcasing the wild, natural beauty and historic homes that characterise the area will have an effect on the number of home hunters checking out properties and prices, just as Sally Wainwright’s Happy Valley did before it.
Claire Sheehan, who runs her own eponymous estate agency covering Hebden Bridge, Todmorden and the surrounding villages, said: “Hebden Bridge is always popular and the filming here has increased interest but what we find is that people buy in the town to start with but then their next move is often Cragg Vale.
“It’s a beautiful valley with moorland and reservoirs at the top. It’s quieter and more rural than Hebden Bridge and it has more properties with gardens, though it’s not cut off as it’s only a short drive from Mytholmroyd.”
Claire added: “You don’t see the half of it when you are in the heart of the village because there are lots of hidden communities off the beaten track.”
In recent times, before the book and the TV drama, the village’s best known claim to fame – outside of those locals well versed with the Coiners legend – was the Cragg Vale hill climb on the B6138 road which is the longest continual ascent in England.
It featured in the Tour de France Grand Depart in 2014 through Calderdale and other parts of Yorkshire. Cyclists love it.
Cragg Vale also boasts a church, Craggies farm shop and cafe and two pubs, The Robin Hood and the Hinchliffe Arms.
The remote Bell House, central in the real-life Coiners story and home of ‘King’ David Hartley, the ringleader of the gang of counterfeiters, and his family, still exists but using it for filming was never considered as had a contemporary modern makeover around 10 years ago.
The then owners hired renowned Halifax based architects Gagarin to restore and extend the old place while bringing in light and making it a home fit for the 21st century.
The team at Gagarin said: “Bell House is in a wonderfully sublime and remote location high on the moors above Cragg Vale. It was perfect for covert criminalities and acts of resistance by the coiners but less so for an involved construction project. How our suppliers got the glass needed across that moor was a feat in itself.”
For those looking to buy in Cragg Vale, where the average terraced house price is £181,000 and the average semi is £366,667, there are slim pickings.
Crag Holme, a former mill owner’s house, is one of just a handful of homes for sale there.
The detached Victorian property has five bedrooms, gardens and parking and is on the market with Claire Sheehan for £600,000.
Russell Blackhurst, owner of Crag Holme, said: “We have lived here for 25 years. It’s a great place to live and bring children up in.
"My wife is a fell runner and we are keen cyclists so it’s perfect. The only reason we are selling is to downsize but we would like to stay in Cragg Vale, if possible."
There’s also a lot of interest in the old Cragg Vale primary school building, which is being developed into six homes.
The quirky, independent spirit in neighbouring Hebden Bridge and its rail links to Leeds and Manchester are a huge draw for home buyers.
Hill top and historic Heptonstall, where the village museum was turned into the coiners’ favourite pub for filming, is also sought after.
The Gallows Pole, the recent three part TV drama based on Calder Valley author Benjamin Myers 2017 novel about the Cragg Vale Coiners, divided opinion in the Calder Valley.
Many are in raptures about the way director Shane Meadows brought the first part of the remarkable true story to the small screen. Others have complained that there’s far too much ‘effing and blinding’.
Clipping was a serious crime that involved obtaining officially minted gold coins from wealthy and corrupt individuals and clipping the edges off them. These were melted down to produce counterfeit currency.
Hartley led the villagers of Cragg Vale out of poverty and near starvation by putting them to work in his clipping operation after the village, above Mytholmroyd, was devastated by the emerging industrial revolution.
Those who relied largely on income from the cottage textiles industry, working from home with a spinning wheel and hand loom, were rendered redundant by a slump in demand for Worsted cloth and the advent of textile mills.
It is estimated that the Cragg Vale Coiners paid £3.5m, which is £490m in today’s money, of fake coins into the Bank of England in the 1760s, devaluing the pound by nine per cent and almost causing the British economy to collapse.
David Hartley paid with his life after the illicit enterprise was discovered and he was hanged at the gallows in York on April 28, 1770.
He is buried in Heptonstall in the grave where his grandmother, Grace, lay. He was just 25 years old.
Read Benjamin Myers book and visit www.visitcalderdale.com/the-cragg-vale-coiners-and-the-gallows-pole/ for the full story.
*The Gallows Pole is still available on BBC on iPlayer.