Sowerby Bridge

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Sowerby Bridge
Sowerby Bridge in 2005.jpg
Sowerby Bridge skyline
Sowerby Bridge is located in Calderdale
Sowerby Bridge
Sowerby Bridge
Sowerby Bridge is located in West Yorkshire
Sowerby Bridge
Sowerby Bridge
Location within West Yorkshire
Population11,703 (Ward 2011)
OS grid referenceSE058233
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSowerby Bridge
Postcode districtHX6
Dialling code01422
PoliceWest Yorkshire
FireWest Yorkshire
UK Parliament
List of places
53°43′N 1°55′W / 53.71°N 1.91°W / 53.71; -1.91Coordinates: 53°43′N 1°55′W / 53.71°N 1.91°W / 53.71; -1.91

Sowerby Bridge (/ˈsərbi, ˈsərbi/)[1] is a market town in the Upper Calder Valley in Calderdale in West Yorkshire, England. The Calderdale Council ward population at the 2011 census was 11,703.[2]


The town was originally a fording point over the once much-wider River Calder where it is joined by the River Ryburn. The town takes its name from the historic bridge which spans the river in the town centre. Before the Industrial Revolution the area was divided between the parishes of Sowerby, Norland, Skircoat and Warley. The boundaries between them being the rivers Calder and Ryburn and Warley Clough, which is now largely culverted. Textiles and engineering industry grew up around the bridge. By the mid-19th century the population had grown and the settlement became an urban district in the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1894.

From 1892 to 1930 Pollit & Wigzell manufactured stationary steam engines for the cotton and woollen mills of Yorkshire, Lancashire and India. Wood Brothers, an engineering and millwright company, also produced engines from its Valley Iron Works. The Markfield Beam Engine in north London is an example of its work.

Council buildings on Hollins Mill Lane, the old swimming pool, council offices and fire station will be transferred to a community group, Sowerby Bridge Fire and Water, and will be renovated for community use.[3]

Christ Church[edit]

The Anglican parish church, Christ Church, situated on Wharf Street, is a Grade II listed building. It was built in 1819 by John Oates. The chancel was rebuilt in 1873–74 and the church was re-roofed 1894.[4] The church is still active and the vicar is Revd. Canon Angela Dick.[5]

The first organ, built by John Ward of York, was installed in 1825, four years after the church opened. It was situated in the gallery above what is now the parish room. Ward also built the organ in the Halifax Square Chapel in 1821. This organ was dismantled in 1865 by Conacher of Huddersfield. Conacher installed a replacement at a cost of £266 (equivalent to £26,000 in 2020).[6] In 1873–74 the church was extended and the organ was moved to its present location. In 1894, however, a major fire started from a candle in the organ and destroyed most of the chancel and nave roof, as well as the organ itself.[7]

As part of the church reconstruction a new and considerably larger organ was provided by Abbott and Smith of Leeds. The organ saw no repairs until 1979, by when the church was unable to afford any restoration. Between 1979 and 1983 a further replacement organ, of some quality, was moved from the now-closed Bolton Brow Methodist Church. This had been originally built by James Jepson Binns of Bramley, Leeds. Its bellows had originally been pumped by a water engine connected to the Rochdale Canal below. The present organ retains the fine oak case and four stops of pipes from the Abbott and Smith organ and incorporates three stops from the organ at Warley Congregational Church. The instrument was converted to electric control between the keyboards and pipes. Some restoration work was completed in 2006 and a recent bequest, from the late Fred Seed, has been used to cover the cost of further work.[7]


The town is part of the Sowerby Bridge ward of the Metropolitan borough of Calderdale, in West Yorkshire.[8]


Sowerby Bridge is situated about 3 miles (4.8 km) from Halifax town centre. It is at the confluence of the River Calder and River Ryburn, and the name Sowerby Bridge references its situation as a crossing point over the River Calder to the older settlement at Sowerby.


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. Unfortunately this station has no public toilets although there are many interesting information panels about the local area.

The town is at the junction of the Calder and Hebble Navigation and the Rochdale Canal; Tuel Lane Lock on the Rochdale Canal is the deepest lock in the United Kingdom.[9] The canal basin and warehouses where the canals meet, Sowerby Bridge Wharf, are listed buildings and house the Moorings Bar and Restaurant, 12-04 Restaurant and Temujin Mongolian Restaurant. The basin is the headquarters of the 12th Halifax Sea Scouts (M.o.D. No. 54 Royal Navy recognised) where Prince Charles opened the William Andrew Memorial Headquarters. Shire Cruisers run holiday hire canal barges, build narrow boats and provide mooring facilities.

In popular culture[edit]

Sowerby Bridge features in George Gissing's 1890 novel The Emancipated as the hometown of the protagonist Ross Mallard.[10]

The canal basin was used as a filming location for the ITV comedy-drama Stay Lucky, and the ITV drama Dead Clever was set in the town. The 2014 BBC One drama Happy Valley was set in Sowerby Bridge and parts of the series were filmed in and around the town.[11][12] Catherine's workplace is a former police station. Series writer and director Sally Wainwright grew up in Sowerby Bridge.[13]

Notable residents[edit]


Rushbearing, the annual ceremony of (now nominally) taking rushes to churches for covering the floors throughout winter, still takes place in Sowerby Bridge over the first weekend of September.

The Fire & Water Festival is an annual festival to raise awareness for the Fire & Water Buildings in Sowerby Bridge. It showcases all the events that Fire & Water put on throughout the year and the Music Festival showcases local artists on an open and accessible stage.

Boxing Day floods 2015[edit]

Local river monitoring stations recorded a level of 11 feet 8 inches (3.55 m)[14] between 12 pm and 6 pm, surpassing previous recorded highs of 8 feet 0 inches (2.43 m) (23 June 2012). Known flood plains, such as Dixie Woods and Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club, were submerged to an estimated depth of 2 feet (61 cm). The floods were reported as the worst in the area since 1968.[15] The town flooded again on 9 February 2020 by Storm Ciara, causing a similar amount of damage to the 2015 floods.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jones, Daniel (2011). Roach, Peter; Setter, Jane; Esling, John (eds.). Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (18th ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-15255-6.
  2. ^ "Calderdale Council Ward population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National statistics. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Information". Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  4. ^ Good Stuff (15 November 1966). "Christ Church – Sowerby Bridge – Calderdale – England". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Christ Church, Sowerby Bridge". Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  6. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  7. ^ a b Nigel Castledine (2015). "The Organ at Christ Church Sowerby Bridge". The Parochial Church Council of Christ Church, Sowerby Bridge. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  8. ^ "Sowerby Bridge". 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  9. ^ "Deepest Canal Locks". Pennine Waterways.
  10. ^ Coustillas, Pierre; Partridge, Colin, eds. (1972). Gissing, the critical heritage;. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. pp. 432–434. ISBN 9780710073679.
  11. ^ "Creative England provides filming location and crew support to new BBC drama Happy Valley when filming in Yorkshire". Creative England. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  12. ^ Gildea, Samantha (19 May 2014). "20 facts about the police drama set in Sowerby Bridge". Examiner Examiner. Huddersfield. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  13. ^ Calkin, Jessamy (9 February 2016). "Behind the scenes of Bafta-winning drama Happy Valley". Telegraph. London. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  14. ^ " flood information service". Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  15. ^ "Worst floods to hit Sowerby Bridge since 1968 | Calendar". ITV News. ITV. 23 December 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  16. ^ "Sowerby Bridge in Calderdale hit by Storm Ciara floods | BBC News". BBC News. BBC News. 9 February 2020. Retrieved 5 July 2020.

External links[edit]