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This blog is a continuation of an older one. To explore previous posts please click the photo above.

Monday 27 May 2024

Walk and Draw

My daughter invited me to accompany her on a 'Walk and Draw' workshop, part of a Hebden Bridge Arts project. I've never really done anything like that before and it was good to be pushed a little beyond my comfort zone. We met in a small group at Project Colt in Elland, alongside the River Calder. Project Colt, in a converted mill complex, is a charity that helps people with addictions to change their lives for good. There's a coffee bar there and a furniture and bric a brac store, whose profits support the charity. 

The first part of the workshop was a short guided walk along the River Calder and the adjacent Calder and Hebble Navigation, a waterway built in the 1700s to extend the routes in the area that were navigable by barges, necessary for trade. Our focus was exploring how the area has been shaped over the years by its industrial past and its impact on the environment. We started on Elland Bridge, built in the 1850s. (The pillared building on the far side was once a bank.)

Off then down Gas Works Lane - no explanation needed there, though the gas works have long since disappeared. Former mill buildings and wharf-side warehouses have been repurposed, many by innovative 'green energy' companies. If only stones could talk... those old stone setts that make up the roadway would have many stories to tell. 

Development continues, with the elegant bowed wall and the revealed tiled floor suggesting the former glory of whatever this building once was. 

A former sheep farming area, the success of the wool trade led to turnpike roads being built in the 18th century, followed by the canals and then the railway, both of which opened the way for the surge of industrialisation in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Eventually a coal-fired power station was built on nearby water meadows, to support the area's textile mills and other industries: coal mining, brick making, quarrying, engineering, sweet manufacture. These industries gradually declined. The power station was closed and demolished in the 1990s and is now an industrial estate. Factories are smaller, cleaner and much more high tech. The majority of goods are now moved by road (and to some extent rail) and sweeping road bridges carry traffic high over the canal and river.

Mills have been repurposed as residential apartments, as well as for business. There is layer upon layer of history and it was interesting to slow down and reflect, noticing too the way nature holds on and gradually reclaims the land, with or without human help. (An area that was once a quarry and ash tip for the power station is now a thriving and ecologically important nature reserve). 

1 comment:

  1. Great to see the stones that could tell so many stories! Sorry one building has gone the way of the sledge hammer, nice floor tile that was. I liked the last bridge had glazed bricks, or tiles all over it's underside. No plants finding root there!