Sowerby Bridge skyline
Sowerby Bridge shown within West Yorkshire
|OS grid reference|
|Metropolitan county||West Yorkshire|
|Region||Yorkshire and the Humber|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||SOWERBY BRIDGE|
|EU Parliament||Yorkshire and the Humber|
- 1 History
- 2 Government
- 3 Geography
- 4 Community Spirit
- 5 Education
- 6 Transport
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 Notable residents
- 9 Traditions
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Originally a fording point over a once much-wider River Calder the town takes its name from the historic bridge which spans the Calder in the centre of the town. Before the town's existence, the geographical area was divided between the older parishes of Sowerby, Norland, Skircoat and Warley. The boundaries between them being the Rivers Calder and Ryburn, and Warley Clough, the latter now being largely culverted.
A textiles and engineering industry eventually grew up around the bridge. By the mid-19th century the population had grown to such an extent that it was awarded its own identity as an Urban District within the West Riding of Yorkshire.
The Wood Brothers an engineering and millwright company also produced engines from their Valley Iron Works. The Markfield Beam Engine is an example for their work.
Sowerby Bridge is situated on the edge of Halifax, about three miles from its centre. It is at the confluence of the River Calder and River Ryburn, and the name Sowerby Bridge references the area's use as a crossing point over the River Calder to the older settlement at Sowerby.
The town had a population of 9,948 at the 2001 Census.
Sowerby Bridge Wharf
In 1996 a boat arrived in Sowerby Bridge that had travelled over from Manchester on the newly reopened Rochdale Canal. In the same year the Sowerby Bridge Wharf Partnership was formed bringing together local businesses and leaseholders, English Heritage, The Civic Trust and Yorkshire Forward coordinated by the Prince’s regeneration Trust. This was the culmination of a campaign dating back to the mid 1970s to highlight the importance and the potential of Sowerby Bridge Wharf. The restoration of the Rochdale Canal had been achieved by stealth, through a series of environmental improvements that had restored sections of the canal even when the reopening of the whole seemed impossible. Meanwhile a campaign had been fought in Sowerby Bridge to prevent the canal basin being filled in for use as a car park. 1996 may have been the end of these long campaigns, but it was also the start of a process that would see the refurbishment of the wharf and its development as a place for leisure and business.
The achievement of Sowerby Bridge Wharf is impressive. It would be impressive in a large city, but to create a regeneration project of this size in a town of less than 10,000 people is remarkable. The Wharf is now home to 270 jobs and a range of start up and relocated businesses. It is testament to the determination of a group of people over many years who have created a special place and one that has transformed the town.
Totally Locally is an award-winning social enterprise and shop local movement, which began in Sowerby Bridge. They support independent retailers with a free branding and marketing campaign for their town. Teams of volunteers use the campaign to promote the value of local shopping, celebrate their high streets, create community events, and ultimately lift their local economy.
artSBridge - Sowerby Bridge Arts Festival
In 1839 Sowerby Bridge hosted an Arts and Science Exhibition that attracted over 29,000 visitors. The community has housed writers, photographers, musicians, artists, poets and other creatives ever since. In summer of 2013 a support group was formed to encourage unification of these disparate groups of creatives. The group named themselves artSBridge, and an initial outcome of the group was Sowerby Bridge's first Arts Festival, taking place from the 7th to 14th December 2013.
A raging success, the festival was supported by Calderdale Council, volunteers, local businesses, schools, cafés, restaurants, churches and pubs. Events included exhibitions, readings, poetry slams, concerts, craft markets, recitals, signings, artistic collaborations and installations.
artSBridge is an inclusive group, whose aim is to engage the local community and encourage the young and old to be part of creative arts. They are proud of Sowerby Bridge and its ever-developing Community Spirit, and also the creative talents that live and work in the area.
Fire and Water - Community Build Project
Sowerby Bridge Fire & Water is a not-for-profit organisation, initially set up as a limited company, run by a board of trustees and special advisors, all of whom are drawn from the local community. It is an organisation for the community run by the community. Anyone can become involved with the project and it is hoped that the active membership will expand to reflect all sectors of the local community.
The trustees so far have applied to Calderdale Council as an organisation, to ask for the Old Fire Station, Swimming Pool and associated buildings to be transferred to the community, for development into an exciting resource for the area. The project will create a purpose built venue to provide community training and to house arts, music and cultural events as well as providing space for other community activities. The creation of a community centre on its own is not enough to effect social, cultural and economic change so the proposed site also provides commercial areas to provide a revenue stream to ensure the sustainability of the community centre and space to house new jobs for the town. This includes the provision of space for craftsmen, artists, and other sole traders to enhance the creativity and cultural flavour of the hub.
There are two high schools in Sowerby Bridge.
The town is at the junction of the Calder and Hebble Navigation and the Rochdale Canal; Tuel Lane Lock on the Rochdale Canal is also the deepest lock in the United Kingdom. The canal basin and associated warehouses where the two canals meet, known as Sowerby Bridge Wharf, are listed buildings and house The Moorings Bar and Restaurant, 12-04 Restaurant, and Temujin Mongolian Restaurant. The Basin is the HQ of The 12th Halifax Sea Scouts (M.O.D. No. 54 Royal Navy Recognised) where HRH Prince of Wales opened the William Andrew Memorial Headquarters. Shire Cruisers run Holiday Canal Hire barges, build Narrow Boats and provide Mooring facilities.
In popular culture
- Joe Riley - former professional rugby league player for England
- John Tillotson (1630–1694), Archbishop of Canterbury
- Walter Lees - former professional cricketer for England
Rushbearing, the annual ceremony of (now nominally) taking rushes to churches for covering the floors throughout winter, still takes place here over the first weekend of September.
- "Sowerby Bridge". 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- Rudlin, David. "Sowerby Bridge Wharf". Climax City. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
- Sands, Chris. "What is Totally Locally?". Totally Locally. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
- "About artSBridge". artSBridge. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
- "About Fire and Water". Sowerby Bridge Fire and Water. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
- "Deepest Canal Locks". Pennine Waterways.
- Sowerby Bridge Chronicle newspaper website
- artSBridge website - Sowerby Bridge Creative Group & Festival Information
- Fire & Water Facebook page - Current Community Build Project
- Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival
- Totally Locally - More Than a Shop Local Campaign