This bench, created by a local sculptor, faces the Black Pit lock on the canal where it passes through Hebden Bridge and when I first saw it, I thought the horses must represent pit ponies used in coalmines. It turns out, however, the ‘black pit’ refers to the meeting of the Calder River and the Hebden Water. In full spate, the area where the two rivers meet creates a powerful churning mass of water and the impression of a bottomless ‘black pit’ below the surface.
The canal plays a large part in the life of the valley even though it is only pleasure boats that now use the vast network of waterways that were once the main transport links for industry. Unfortunately by the time building work had finished on the canal system, road transport was taking over.
The Rochdale Canal runs through the Calder Valley starting in Sowerby Bridge and ending in Manchester, winding its way for 32 miles across the Pennines. The towpath that was once used by the horses pulling the heavily laden barges, is now the province of ramblers, dog walkers, joggers and cyclists,
Black Pit, Lock number 9, is located in the centre of Hebden Bridge at the Hebden aquaduct, a rather spectacular piece of nineteenth century engineering enabling the canal to pass over the top of the two rivers. (This link on the Canal River Trust website gives a graphic depiction of the meeting of the waters here.)
Even though I have lived here for twenty years I’m still learning about the history and the heritage of this place. Still an ‘incomer’ in many ways. My depiction of the town in my stories probably differs from that of the true ‘natives’ but it is how I’ve experienced it. I love it and each walk I take along the canal offers something new to be appreciated.
Now for the plug:
Starting Over, my debut novel published by Affinity eBook Press, is set in the hills above Huddersfield and also partly in Hebden Bridge. Please visit the other sections on the blog for links to reviews and outlets for purchasing the book.