Hebden Bridge’s status as one of the nation’s best places to visit has gone continental after it was listed as one of Europe’s ‘top 10’ cities to explore this spring by online travel comparison and booking website GoEuro.
Described as being within ‘spitting distance of the gorgeous dales’ and ‘littered with quirky cafes and boutique shops’, the market town was named alongside well known European cities including Budapest and Belgium’s Mechelen.
The market town’s latest accolade adds to a list of being named ‘the best town’ in Britain and Ireland in 2010, inside The Times’ Top 30 most fashionable places in the world voted by The Times and just last week amongst the nation’s most sociable residents.
Amy Leader, director of Hebden Bridge community association, expressed her opinion on why the town continues to impress.
“Hebden Bridge is so special because it combines powerful landscapes with really special people, so when the two come together there’s a lot of magic that happens,” said Amy.
“There are so many sparks, inspiration and energy here. The residents are a big part of what Hebden Bridge is all about, they have the energy, attitude and the aspirations to get on, and it’s why we’ve got so many interesting buildings, festivals and events that people get involved in.
“The landscape is extremely important to Hebden Bridge. There’s all the natural stuff which is stunning but there’s also the man-made industrial heritage that I think is quite beautiful as well so you’ve still got a lot of the old chapels and mills and the combination of the two make it really beautiful.”
Jason Boom, the Town’s Clerk, shared the same opinion, adding that the area has the potential to grow even more.
He said: “I think sometimes it is really difficult to identify with these comments because we live and work here, but I personally think because we live in the place and are that used to it we don’t realise what a nice, special, attractive, friendly and happening kind of place it is.
“There isn’t many places that look like this. I think, visually, there’s lots of openings when you go up the hillside of the valley and look through buildings that allow you to peep through and get a unique view.
“We’ve got a very active community here but if the people who are not always getting involved, can get involved, then we can get that bit better.”
Alan Boult, 55, and owner of Hebden Bridge’s Blazing Saddles from Nelson, said: “It’s the individual shops and the funkiness of them that really appeal to me and probably a lot of others.
“I don’t live around here but when I come to work you can tell it’s a place full of welcoming and interesting characters.”
With the Town already boasting past achievements Claudette Roberts, manager and owner of Fleur De Lys, revealed the news isn’t that much of a shock.
The 42-year-old said: “The news really doesn’t come as a surprise. I think it’s different to a lot of other places. Not only because of how friendly the area is but because of its quirkiness and uniqueness - you’ve got the lovely towpath along the canal, we’ve got great scenery and all the activities that are on offer.”
Carol, 64, a semi-retired employee at the Rose and Barber on Market Street from Mytholmroyd, said: “Hebden Bridge is a very unique place and it’s not really a shock to hear it’s one of the best in Europe. There’s all the individual shops, lovely canals, parks and our cinema that appeal to everyone - on a Thursday morning the Picturehouse puts on teas and coffees for everyone and that reflects the town as a whole, it’s a real warm and welcoming place.”
Herbert Smith, 60 and an accountant from Halifax, said: “It’s a wonderful place, especially for its views. There’s a lot of history to Hebden Bridge and I try and get here once a month, normally to do a bit of fishing. I also come here for the French Dance music which is a very popular place. But there’s loads of other things that make this place such an attraction, such as the cinema and parks.”
A similar view was shared by everyone in the community, with The Mayor of Hebden Royd Coun, Jonathan Timbers, adding: “It’s a great place to come and visit. A lot of people come here to have a look around but actually end up staying and living here, that’s the sort of impression it leaves.
“It’s a very attractive town and I liken it to places in France, because of the small businesses and independent shops that we have.”