Fighting spirit has shone through in Hebden Bridge

Matt Kaye and Allan Boult at Blazing Saddles, West End, Hebden Bridge
Matt Kaye and Allan Boult at Blazing Saddles, West End, Hebden Bridge

The fighting spirit is alive and well in Hebden Bridge as businesses in the town begin to reopen one month on from the floods.

A sense of normality is beginning to return as business owners work tirelessly to get back on their feet.

The iconic image of Lloyds Bank, Albert Street, as an island surrounded by flood water will be remembered by many. The bank has now reopened, alongside many other businesses in the town.

Jackie Donnelly, of Hair and There, New Road, opened up just a week after the deluge after working non-stop to clear the water and sludge from her hairdressing business. She is determined to remain positive despite the setback.

“My clients are everything to me,” she said. “I’ve got a good business, a good following and I just needed to get up and do it. Everybody has come together, we’ve done it three times now, and everybody is determined to get back to it. I think a lot of people are getting it together, the community is coming together and it makes an amazing difference.”

Meanwhile, Blazing Saddles, West End, has only been able to partially reopen since the floods hit. The showroom is completely out of action, but its workshop has been able to open.

Allan Boult said: “It will be some time before the shop is back up and running, it will take weeks and weeks but we have got that fighting spirit.

“We have no intention of leaving Hebden Bridge because we love it here. There is a feeling that the town will come back, but a lot of people are aware that they won’t get insurance in the future.

“Businesses are now trying to make themselves more flood resilient.”

Oxfam, at Market Street, had to close for six months following the floods of 2012, but managed to get back up and running 12 days after the Boxing Day deluge hit.

As was the same throughout Hebden Bridge, volunteers arrived in their droves to help out.

“We have people coming in now who just want to get back to normal, regulars who come in, even if its just for a bit of a chat,” said Gavin Hayes.

“They are really happy to see us again. People are starting to see that shops are back open and it lifts their spirits.

“It’s just been very surreal. I, and many other people, have been in shock. But I think what its done has brought people together.”

Nigel Cowens, of N C Jewellers, Hope Street, only opened his refurbished shop, formerly T&G Duranczyk, in November. The cellar was severely affected by flood water, but it did not rise to the shop floor.

“I’m hopeful it will get back to how it was,” said Mr Cowens. “People have been very supportive and I’m hoping that the footfall will increase.

“Between Christmas and New Year it’s quite a busy period, but we have missed out on that this year.

“There was one day where I didn’t take a penny - in 32 years of working at Duranczyk’s I can’t remember that happening.”