Hebden Bridge is a market town within the Calderdale borough of West Yorkshire, England, eight miles (13 km) west of Halifax and fifteen miles east of Rochdale, at the confluence of the River Calder and Hebden Water.
During the 1970s and 1980s the town saw an influx of artists, writers, photographers, musicians, alternative practitioners, teachers, green and New Age activists and more recently, wealthier 'yuppie' types. This in turn saw a boom in tourism to the area. During the 1990s Hebden Bridge became a dormitory town due to its proximity to major towns and cities in West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
Because Hebden Bridge is in a valley, it has always had problems with flooding. These tend to affect the area between Hebden Water and the cinema on New Road, Brearley Fields in Mytholmroyd, and further up the valley at Callis Bridge by the sewage works and the old Aquaspersions factory. Flooding at Callis Bridge is so frequent that the level of the River Calder has been lowered and special perforated kerbstones fitted so that water can drain back into the river. Brearley is a flood plain but it is also the playing fields for Calder High School and a number of local football, rugby league and cricket teams.
Although Hebden Bridge frequently gets flooded, it also has occasional water shortages. Particularly during the 1990s it had a number of hosepipe bans over summer designed to cut the amount of water used. In 1995 the shortage was particularly severe and the water supply to Hebden Bridge, Halifax and the rest of Calderdale failed completely.
Yorkshire Water, the local water supply company, tried a number of methods to manage the situation. They applied for drought orders to cut the amount of water flowing into rivers, particularly Hebden Water. Emergency supplies of mineral water in bottles and bowsers were provided to public buildings such as schools and hospitals. They also attempted to introduce standpipes to Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd but this was abandoned after threats of civil disturbance.
Another method used was to ship water in from other areas such as Kielder Water in Northumberland. The water was shipped in using tanker lorries and was dumped straight into Scammonden Dam via a specially built holding centre just off the M62 motorway. This was controversial due to the large number of tankers travelling along the busy M62 and A629 Elland bypass, and also because some of the tankers had previously been used for transporting liquid fertiliser.
Yorkshire Water also built a number of emergency pipelines, including one running underneath the Rochdale Canal.
During the drought Yorkshire Water was heavily criticised for having one of the worst rates of water lost due to leaks in their pipes. The amount of water lost was around 30%. Yorkshire Water was privatised in 1991 and a number of people felt that this drought was caused in part by them failing to maintain their network since privatisation.
See separate page Hebden Bridge links
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