Sowerby Bridge

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Coordinates: 53°42′N 1°55′W / 53.70°N 1.91°W / 53.70; -1.91

Sowerby Bridge
Sowerby Bridge in 2005.jpg
Sowerby Bridge skyline
Sowerby Bridge is located in West Yorkshire
Sowerby Bridge
Sowerby Bridge
 Sowerby Bridge shown within West Yorkshire
Population 9,948 (2001)
OS grid reference SE058233
Metropolitan borough Calderdale
Metropolitan county West Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district HX6
Dialling code 01422
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Halifax
List of places

Sowerby Bridge /ˌsɔrbi ˈbrɪ/ is a market town that lies within the Upper Calder Valley in the district of Calderdale in the county of West Yorkshire, in northern England.


The town is part of the Sowerby Bridge ward of the Metropolitan borough of Calderdale, part of the Metropolitan county of West Yorkshire.[1]


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.

Community Spirit[edit]

Sowerby Bridge Wharf[edit]

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.[2]

Totally Locally[edit]

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.[3]

artSBridge - Sowerby Bridge Arts Festival[edit]

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[edit]

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.[5]


Industrial heritage[edit]

From 1892 to 1930 home of Pollit & Wigzell ltd a prominent manufacturer of quality stationary steam engines used in the cotton and woollen mills of Yorkshire, Lancashire and India.

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.


There are two high schools in Sowerby Bridge.


The town is served by Sowerby Bridge railway station, which sees a regular service to Manchester, Bradford and Leeds on the Caldervale Line.

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.[6] 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[edit]

The canal basin was formerly used as a filming location for the ITV comedy-drama Stay Lucky, and the ITV drama Dead Clever was set in the town. BBC1 drama Happy Valley was also filmed in the area.

Notable residents[edit]


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.


  1. ^ "Sowerby Bridge". 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Rudlin, David. "Sowerby Bridge Wharf". Climax City. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Sands, Chris. "What is Totally Locally?". Totally Locally. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "About artSBridge". artSBridge. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "About Fire and Water". Sowerby Bridge Fire and Water. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Deepest Canal Locks". Pennine Waterways. 

External links[edit]