The Boxing Day floods that devastated Hebden Bridge wrecked the festive season for many small, independent traders. Shops and cafes were submerged and livelihoods wrecked and we wept for them.
Thanks to an indomitable spirit, some creative fundraising and a close-knit and caring community, the town is open for business and ready to party. On Saturday, June 25, it is staging the Hebden Royd Alternative Christmas “to celebrate the Christmas we never really had after the floods”. We are all invited and it’s bound to be a good “do”.
This month also sees the launch of Watermark Calderdale, a community-led campaign to build a resilience fund. Its aim is to have a pot of money that can be accessed by businesses and households immediately when future floods hit. Shops, makers, businesses, growers and service providers are being asked to nominate a product to help raise money for the initiative. The plan is that they will badge it up with the Watermark sticker and a percentage or all the profits go into the fund.
One of our favourite shopkeepers, Alison Bartram of The Heart Gallery, has already chosen her Watermark products. One is this Hebden Spirit bottle by etched glass artist and wordsmith Andy Poplar, of Vinegar & Brown Paper. It comes in two sizes and costs from £30 and Alison will donate £10 to the fund. The gallery is also selling Andy’s bell jars with quotes by Sylvia Plath, who is buried in Heptonstall. They cost from £70 each. Another Watermark piece is a papercut by Pippa Dyrlaga, pictured at the top of this blog post. The framed original is £340 with £40 going into the fund but a limited edition print will retail at £35 with £10 for the fund.
Alison Bartram exemplifies the indomitable spirit of Hebden. Her beautiful shop on Market Street, which is devoted to work by artists and designer makers, was wrecked by the filthy flood waters. Almost all the fixtures, fittings and stock were lost and she shed more than a few tears. Now, after a six month battle, this feisty and fabulous woman is back in business and re-opens The Heart Gallery tomorrow, Friday at 10.30am. The shop is looking better than ever. Suzi of Sarah Mason Photography quickly snapped a few pictures as Alison and her helpers dressed the rooms. They kindly shared them with us.
Gorgeous Yorkshire wishes you all a very happy Alternative Christmas x