Hebden Bridge, W. Yorkshire, UK, 1980s

David A. L. Davies

Meerbusch, Germany

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Artist's Description

Hebden Bridge is a popular place to live. However space is limited due to the steep valleys and lack of flat land. In the past this led to “upstairs-downstairs” houses known as over and under dwellings. These were houses built in terraces with 4-5 storeys. The upper storeys face uphill while the lower ones face downhill with their back wall against the hillside. The bottom 2 storeys would be one house while the upper 2-3 storeys would be another. This also led to unusual legal arrangements such as the “flying freehold”, where the shared floor/ceiling is wholly owned by the underdwelling.

Population changes in the 1990s led to a demand for more houses. This has proved to be extremely controversial for a number of reasons. The limited availability of houses has meant that prices have risen sharply (for example, a house valued at £54,000 in 1998 was valued at nearly £150,000 in 2004).

Demand for new houses is also a contentious issue as many of the sites for proposed development are areas such as fields or woodland that some local residents feel should be left as they are. Hebden Bridge has attracted artists, and has developed a small New Age community. It became attractive in the 1980s and 1990s to lesbians as a place of mutual support to bring up children. As of 2004 Hebden Bridge had the highest number of lesbians per head in the UK.

In April 2005 Hebden Bridge was declared the 4th quirkiest place in the world by highlife (the British Airways flight magazine) and was described as “modern and stylish in an unconventional and stylish way”.

Image made on Fuji Velvia film using a 6×7 Pentax camera.

Artwork Comments

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