Introduction to the village

Hebden is a village and civil parish in the Craven district of North Yorkshire, England, and one of four villages in the ecclesiastical parish of Linton. It lies near Grimwith Reservoir and Grassington, in Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. In 2011 it had a population of 230.

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.

As the Hebden Trust Lords shared the mineral royalties, the mines brought prosperity which gave rise to 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 by the community in 1874, and the stone-built 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 census data

The official 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 are available online at a small cost from a number of companies.

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.

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.

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. This section 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 the one Commonwealth War Grave in the village.

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 for the expanding population of Hebden, 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

Copyright

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