Hebden Parish Historical Data

Introduction to the village

Hebden is a village and civil parish in the Craven district of North Yorkshire, England, and one of four townships in the ecclesiastical parish of Linton. Traditionally within the East Division of the wapentake of Staincliffe in the West Riding, it is located near Grimwith Reservoir and Grassington, in Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. At the 2011 census it had a population of 246.

An old postcard of the crossroads in Hebden.
An old postcard of the crossroads in Hebden. Click image for larger resolution

Although no property in the village is older than the early 17th century, its layout reflects its development in medieval times as a planned village. Eight toft compartments are discernible to the west of Main Street, and the outline of the four surrounding common fields, now divided, may be identified from the pattern of dry stone walls. The fields were largely arable, providing the village with most of its food requirements, but are now farmed exclusively for pasture and hay. The village manor house was on land now occupied by Hebden Hall at the south end of Main Street.

The last stretch of Hebden Beck before it reaches the River Wharfe was used to power a corn mill in the Middle Ages, and corn milling survived into the middle of the 19th century. In the 14th century Fountains Abbey had a fulling mill in the village. In 1791 a three-storey cotton mill was built alongside the corn mill. It housed 54 spinning frames and was productive until 1870 when it was driven out of business by the more efficient stream-driven machinery of the industrial revolution. At its peak, the mill employed more than 70 men, women, and children. The building was used for other purposes including a roller skating rink until it was demolished in 1967.

Lead mining on Grassington Moor became important in the 18th century, and as a result of the mines' success, a number of the mine owners promoted the provision of the Grassington to Pateley Bridge turnpike road, which was begun in 1760 and provided an all-weather route across the moors for wagons. From the early 19th century Hebden was a dormitory village for some miners, contributing to the population rising to more than 500 in the 1830s. In the early 1850s profitable mines were established in the parish to the north of the village on veins associated with Grassington Moor, which helped sustain the population. Although activity continued sporadically into the last decade of the century, the accessible ore was largely exhausted by 1865, and the population declined to a low of 199 in 1901.

Since the Hebden Trust Lords shared the mineral royalties, the mines brought revenue to the major landowners in the parish which resulted in the remodelling and redevelopment of much of the village. Green Terrace, which includes the old post office, was built in the 1870s, and Main Street was transformed from a back lane into the high street. The village school, with working clock and bell tower, was built in 1874, the Wesleyan chapel was rebuilt to face Main Street in 1877, and the Ibbotson Institute, now the community hall, was completed in 1903.

The coming of the Yorkshire Dales Railway to Threshfield in 1902 opened up Hebden as a destination for day visitors and holiday makers. A purpose-built timber guest house was opened in 1909 at the south end of the village by the Co-operative Holiday Association. It passed into private hands in 1960, and continued as a holiday centre until 1990, mainly catering for school parties. It was demolished in 2016 and replaced with a private residence. The influx of visitors saw the creation of Hargreaves Coaches to cater for their needs. Originally founded by Robert Hargreaves, it was taken over by his sons following his death in 1919. Longthornes of Hebden haulage company was started in 1928 by Herbert Longthorne.

The census data

The available transcripts of the Hebden census forms are often pretty poor, and so they have been transcribed from scratch. Where the hand-written forms have been difficult to read, the data has been cross-checked with that from other years, and gazetteers have been used to check place names when necessary. Some place name spelling errors have been corrected, but archaic versions of modern names have been retained. Some errors will inevitably have been introduced, and the author will be happy to hear of them. Images of the individual census pages can be inspected online at a small cost from a number of companies.

The 1939 Register, taken on 29 September 1939 just after the outbreak of the Second World War, is different. Details of around 40 million civilians were recorded, with the information being used, among other things, for the issue of identity cards and ration books. In theory, entries for anyone who may still be alive are redacted, although there are exceptions.

The census statistics

The census data was converted to spreadsheet format, and statistics generated which are considered to illustrate the changing nature of the village over the seventy years between 1841 and 1911. Of particularly note is the conversion of the village from an industrial centre based on lead mining and textiles to a largely agrarian economy, and the changes in life expectancy.

School Admissions Register

The school admissions register covering the period from 1874 to about 1911 has been transcribed . It has some interesting insights, including how two families emigrated to the U.S.A. and New South Wales respectively, and how visiting children attended the school for just a few days. A number of annotated school photographs are also available, and a list of the known head teachers.

Local trade directories and almanacs

Trade directories and almanacs are useful sources of information for who was living where at a particular time, and what they were doing. They are by no means definitive - their publication was more driven by commercial interest rather than a desire to provide an accurate record. A total of 43 have been transcribed for Hebden - from 1822 to 1936.

The Hebden Tithe Map Register

The Hebden Tithe Map Register published in 1846 gives a very clear snapshot of land ownership in the township, the tenants, the size of farms, and of land usage. This section provides a transcript of the register.

Hebden Electorate

Prior to the 1872 Ballot Act, electors were required to mount a platform at a parliamentary election and announce their choice of candidate to the officer who then recorded it in the poll book. These poll books were then often published. The Hebden electorate details are available for three of these elections - 1742, 1807, and 1835, and are listed in this section. A number of poll registers have also been transcribed..

Lead mining data

Lead mining was an important part of the local economy in the nineteenth century. Initially Hebden was a dormitory village for people working in the mines in Grassington Moor, and possibly Greenhow and Appletreewick, but in the late 1850s lead veins were exploited in the Hebden Royalty by the Hebden Moor Mining Company. These were profitable until the early 1870s. This section summarises the census data pertaining to the lead mine employees, and the production figures etc. of the Hebden Moor Mining Company. It also has a contemporaneous large scale map displayed in Deep Zoom-style showing the mining infrastructure around Bolton Gill in 1866, and from 1863 showing the lead veins crossing the area.

Old postcard of blacksmith William Bell outside his smithy.
Old postcard of blacksmith William Bell outside his smithy. Click image for larger resolution

The War Data

As with all other small rural communities, Hebden suffered its losses during the two world wars. These two pages lists those soldiers who died in the World Wars, those whose names appear on the village's Memorial Plaque and/or the Roles of Honour, and details of the one Commonwealth War Grave in the village. More information on the soldiers from Hebden who gave their lives in the First World War may be found in the Craven’s Part in the Great War website.

Cemetery data

Hebden has two cemeteries - one in St. Peter's churchyard, and a newer one on the other side of Church Lane. Hebden is part of the ecclesiastical parish of Linton, and St. Peter's Church was built in 1841 as a chapel of ease to counteract the dominance of non-conformism in the village, so no burials occurred before that date. The newer cemetery dates from the mid-1960s. This section records those remembered on all the memorials, whether or not the memorial is associated with a grave.

Old postcard of St. Peter's Church.
Old postcard of St. Peter's Church. Click image for larger resolution

Newspaper cuttings

A selection of newspaper cuttings are available relating to Hebden. Some cast light on the social conditions at the time, such as the report of a Hebden lady being publicly whipped for pilfering yarn in 1785, and the Hebden mill owner who claimed ownership of four 'work children', one aged six years, in 1807. Some mark significant events in the development of the village, such as the five years of meetings as the Inclosure Act was being enforced, the consecration of the church, and the opening of the institute. Others cast light on the people of the village, such as Thomas Tattersall, the local postman who for over 25 years walked his 20-mile round delivering to the local villages, and the fifth marriage of Thomas Francis Hammond at the age of 88.

Images of Hebden

A gallery of photographs and postcards depicts how Hebden has looked over the past 150 years or so. The oldest photograph shows the opening of the school in 1874. A second gallery has modern photographs of the various historical artifacts and features that may be found in the township.


The author would like to acknowledge the generosity of George Coney, Anthea Dacy, Chris Foster, Muriel Hargraves, Peter Hodge, Pat Hodgkins, Hebden Parish Council, David Joy, Ken Longthorne, Alan Stockdale, Arthur Stockdale, Janet Stockdale, Jacqui Todd, and Linda Wilson for the use of their personal material which has made the Images section of this website worthwhile; to John Richardson for his help and advice; and to the Craven’s Part in the Great War website for the use of two of their photographs. I would also like to thank Chris Foster for his hard work and skill in digitising some very old, and very delicate maps, and for the vast number of photographs he has taken specifically for this site.

The author has been heavily dependent on David Joy's two books on Hebden - Hebden: The History of a Dales Township, published by Hebden Local History Group in 2002; and Uphill to Paradise published privately in 1991. Both are a veritable treasure trove of information about the village. Equally fascinating, albeit somewhat more esoteric, is Heather Beaumont's Pointers to the Past: The Historic Landscape of Hebden Township, Upper Wharfedale.

On the technical front, we would like to acknowledge our use of Torstein Hønsi's Highslide JavaScript software for implementing our photographic galleries, and to OpenSeadragon for the use of their software for implementing the zoomable maps.


All contributors to this website hereby grant to all the right to copy and redistribute all or elements of the content of the website without restriction or acknowledgment (although an acknowledgment is always nice!).