Sowerby Bridge

Sowerby Bridge (/ˌsɔːrbi/) is a market town in the Upper Calder Valley in Calderdale in West Yorkshire, England. The Calderdale Council ward population at the 2011 census was 11,703.[1]

Sowerby Bridge
Sowerby Bridge in 2005

Sowerby Bridge skyline
Sowerby Bridge is located in West Yorkshire
Sowerby Bridge
Sowerby Bridge
Location within West Yorkshire
Population11,703 (Ward 2011)
OS grid referenceSE058233
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtHX6
Dialling code01422
PoliceWest Yorkshire
FireWest Yorkshire
EU ParliamentYorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament


The town was originally a fording point over the once much-wider River Calder where it joins the River Ryburn. The town takes its name from the historic bridge which spans the river in the town centre. Before the Industrial Revolution the area was divided between the parishes of Sowerby, Norland, Skircoat and Warley. The boundaries between them being the rivers Calder and Ryburn and Warley Clough, which is now largely culverted. Textiles and engineering industry grew up around the bridge. By the mid-19th century the population had grown and the settlement became an urban district in the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1894.

From 1892 to 1930 Pollit & Wigzell manufactured stationary steam engines for the cotton and woollen mills of Yorkshire, Lancashire and India. Wood Brothers, an engineering and millwright company, also produced engines from its Valley Iron Works. The Markfield Beam Engine is an example for its work.

Council buildings on Hollins Mill Lane, the old swimming pool, council offices and fire station will be transferred to the community group, Sowerby Bridge Fire and Water, and will be renovated for community use.[2]

Christ Church

The Anglican parish church, Christ Church, situated on Wharf Street, is a Grade II listed building. It was built in 1819 by John Oates The chancel was rebuilt in 1873–74 and the church was re-roofed 1894.[3] The church is still active and the vicar is Revd. Canon Angela Dick.[4]

The first organ, built by John Ward of York, was installed in 1825, four years after the church opened. It was situated in the gallery above what is now the parish room. Ward also built the organ in the Halifax Square Chapel in 1821. This organ was dismantled in 1865 by Conacher of Huddersfield. Conacher installed a replacement at a cost of £266 (equivalent to £25,000 in 2018)[5]. In 1873–74 the church was extended and the organ was moved to its present location. In 1894, however, a major fire started from a candle in the organ and destroyed most of the chancel and nave roof, as well as the organ itself.[6]

As part of the church reconstruction a new and considerably larger organ was provided by Abbott & Smith of Leeds. The organ saw no repairs until 1979, by when the church was unable to afford any restoration. Between 1979 and 1983 a further replacement organ, of some quality, was moved from the closed Bolton Brow Methodist Church. This had been originally built by James Jepson Binns of Bramley, Leeds. Its bellows had originally been pumped by a water engine connected to the Rochdale Canal below. The present organ retains the fine oak case and four stops of pipes from the Abbott and Smith organ and incorporates three stops from the organ at Warley Congregational Church. The instrument was converted to electric control between the keyboards and pipes. Some restoration work was completed in 2006 and a recent bequest, from the late Fred Seed, has been used to cover the cost of further work.[6]


The town is part of the Sowerby Bridge ward of the Metropolitan borough of Calderdale, part of the Metropolitan county of West Yorkshire.[7]


Sowerby Bridge is situated about 3 miles (4.8 km) from Halifax town centre. It is at the confluence of the River Calder and River Ryburn, and the name Sowerby Bridge references its situation as a crossing point over the River Calder to the older settlement at Sowerby.


There are two high schools in Sowerby Bridge.


The town is served by Sowerby Bridge railway station, which sees a regular service to Manchester, Bradford and Leeds on the Caldervale Line. Unfortunately this station has no public toilets although there are many interesting information panels about the local area.

The town is at the junction of the Calder and Hebble Navigation and the Rochdale Canal; Tuel Lane Lock on the Rochdale Canal is the deepest lock in the United Kingdom.[8] The canal basin and warehouses where the canals meet, Sowerby Bridge Wharf, are listed buildings and house the Moorings Bar and Restaurant, 12-04 Restaurant and Temujin Mongolian Restaurant. The basin is the headquarters of the 12th Halifax Sea Scouts (M.o.D. No. 54 Royal Navy recognised) where Prince Charles opened the William Andrew Memorial Headquarters. Shire Cruisers run holiday hire canal barges, build narrow boats and provide mooring facilities.

In popular culture

Sowerby Bridge features in George Gissing's 1890 novel The Emancipated as the hometown of the protagonist Ross Mallard.[9]

The canal basin was used as a filming location for the ITV comedy-drama Stay Lucky, and the ITV drama Dead Clever was set in the town. The 2014 BBC One drama Happy Valley was set in Sowerby Bridge and parts of the series were filmed in and around the town.[10][11] Catherine's workplace is a former police station. Series writer and director Sally Wainwright grew up in Sowerby Bridge.[12]

Notable residents


Rushbearing, the annual ceremony of (now nominally) taking rushes to churches for covering the floors throughout winter, still takes place here over the first weekend of September.

Boxing Day floods 2015

Local river monitoring stations recorded a level of 3.55m between 12 pm and 6 pm, surpassing previous recorded highs of 2.43m (23 June 2012). Known flood plains, such as Dixie Woods and Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club, were submerged to an estimated depth of 2 feet (61 cm). The floods were reported as the worst in the area since 1968.[13]


  1. ^ "Calderdale Council Ward population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National statistics. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  2. ^ Information
  3. ^ Good Stuff (15 November 1966). "Christ Church – Sowerby Bridge – Calderdale – England". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Christ Church, Sowerby Bridge". Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  5. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  6. ^ a b Nigel Castledine (2015). "The Organ at Christ Church Sowerby Bridge". The Parochial Church Council of Christ Church, Sowerby Bridge. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  7. ^ "Sowerby Bridge". 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Deepest Canal Locks". Pennine Waterways.
  9. ^ Coustillas, Pierre; Partridge, Colin, eds. (1972). Gissing, the critical heritage;. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. pp. 432–434. ISBN 9780710073679.
  10. ^ "Creative England provides filming location and crew support to new BBC drama Happy Valley when filming in Yorkshire". Creative England. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  11. ^ Gildea, Samantha (19 May 2014). "20 facts about the police drama set in Sowerby Bridge". Examiner Examiner. Huddersfield. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  12. ^ Calkin, Jessamy (9 February 2016). "Behind the scenes of Bafta-winning drama Happy Valley". Telegraph. London. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Worst floods to hit Sowerby Bridge since 1968 | Calendar". ITV News. ITV. 23 December 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.

External links

The Sowerby Bridge Chronicle newspaper:

1999 Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council election

Elections to Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council were held on 6 May 1999. One third of the council was up for election and the Labour party lost overall control of the council to no overall control. The overall turnout of the election was 30.09% (44,215 voters of an electorate of 146,944). The winning candidate in each ward is highlighted in bold.

After the election, the composition of the council was

Labour 20

Conservative 19

Liberal Democrats 14

Independent 1

2000 Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council election

Elections to Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council were held on 4 May 2000. One third of the council was up for election and the Conservative party gained overall control of the council from no overall control. The total turnout of the election was 28.97% (40,190 voters of an electorate of 138,748). The winning candidate in each ward is highlighted in bold.

After the election, the composition of the council was

Conservative 28

Liberal Democrats 15

Labour 10

Independent 1

2003 Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council election

Elections to Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council were held on 1 May 2003. One third of the council was up for election and the council stayed under no overall control. The total turnout of the election was 34.44% (47,601 voters of an electorate of 138,228). The winning candidate(s) in each ward is highlighted in bold.After the election, the composition of the council was

Conservative 25

Liberal Democrat 16

Labour 10

British National 2

Independent 1

2011 Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council election

Elections to Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council took place on Thursday 5 May 2011.

There were 17 seats up for election, one third of the council. After the election the council continued to have no overall control and continue to be run by a coalition between the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats.

During 2011 the Liberal Democrat councillor for the Warley Ward Robert Pearson left the Liberal Democrats and spent the remainder of his time on the council as an Independent Liberal Democrat. Councillor Tom Bates of the BNP left the party and continued his term as an independent councillor.

2018 Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council election

The 2018 Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council election took place on 3 May 2018 to elect members of Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council in England. This was on the same day as other local elections. One councillor was elected in each ward for a four-year term so the councillors elected in 2018 last stood for election in 2014. Each ward is represented by three councillors, the election of which is staggered, so only one third of the councillors were elected in this election. Before the election there was no overall control with a minority Labour administration. Following the election Labour, having gained one councillor, was still two councillors away from a majority so it remained no overall control.

Independent Conservative Councillor Mike Payne of Sowerby Bridge Ward, who was suspended from the Conservative Party in April 2018, was reinstated into the party during this election cycle.

Calder and Hebble Navigation

The Calder and Hebble Navigation is a broad inland waterway, with locks and bridgeholes that are suitable for 14-foot-wide (4.3 m) boats, in West Yorkshire, England. Construction to improve the River Calder and the River Hebble began in 1759, and the initial scheme, which included 5.7 miles (9.2 km) of new cuts, was completed in 1770 and has remained navigable since it was opened. Significant improvements were made, including the Salterhebble branch to Halifax, opened in 1828, and ever-longer cuts to bypass river sections. Trade was assisted by the opening of the Rochdale Canal in 1804, which provided a through route from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester. There were plans to abandon the river sections completely in the 1830s, but these were modified as the needs of mill owners and other riparian landowners were recognised.

With the coming of the railways, the canal was leased to the Manchester and Leeds Railway in 1843, but this was subsequently deemed to be illegal, and the Aire and Calder Navigation with which the Calder and Hebble Navigation connected at its eastern end, leased the canal from September 1847 until 1885. Some of the locks were enlarged, but many were not, and having been designed for Yorkshire Keels, they remain among the shortest on the English connected waterways network, at 57 feet (17 m). The navigation became a cul-de-sac in the 20th century, but with the burgeoning interest in leisure use of the canals, the trans-Pennine Rochdale Canal was reopened in 1996 and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal followed in 2001, resulting in the navigation becoming part of three Pennine cruising rings.

HX postcode area

The HX postcode area, also known as the Halifax postcode area, is a group of seven postcode districts in England, which are subdivisions of four post towns. These postcode districts cover much of western West Yorkshire, including Halifax, Elland, Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge.

Halifax and District Association Football League

The Halifax and District Association Football League (currently sponsored by Haslem - Sheppard) is a football competition based in England. It has a total of three divisions, of which the highest, the Premier Division, sits at level 14 of the English football league system. It is a feeder to the West Riding League.

Joe Riley (rugby league)

Joseph "Joe" G. Riley (birth registered second ¼ 1876 – death registered fourth ¼ 1954) was an English professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1890s, 1900s and 1910s, and coached rugby union in the 1910s and 1920s. He played representative level rugby league (RL) for Great Britain, England and Yorkshire, and at club level for Sowerby Bridge and Halifax (Heritage № 104), as a centre, stand-off, or scrum-half, i.e. number 3 or 4, 6, or 7, and coached rugby union (RU) at the newly established Halifax RUFC (formed 1919), with fellow Halifax Hall Of Fame Inductee; Archie Rigg, after both of their playing careers finished.

List of mills in Calderdale

This is a list of the wool, cotton and other textile mills in Calderdale, England: this is Halifax, Brighouse and Todmorden with Elland, Hebden Royd and Ripponden.

List of schools in Calderdale

This is a list of schools in Calderdale in the English county of West Yorkshire.

Rishworth Branch

The Rishworth branch was built by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and linked Sowerby Bridge with Rishworth and served the villages of Triangle, Ripponden, Barkisland and Rishworth.

River Ryburn

The River Ryburn is a river in West Yorkshire, England. It flows through the villages of Rishworth, Ripponden and Triangle before flowing into the River Calder at Sowerby Bridge.

Rochdale Canal

The Rochdale Canal is a navigable broad canal in Northern England, between Manchester and Sowerby Bridge, part of the connected system of the canals of Great Britain. Its name refers to the town of Rochdale, in Greater Manchester, through which it passes.

The Rochdale is a broad canal because its locks are wide enough to allow vessels of 14 feet width. The canal runs for 32 miles (51 km) across the Pennines from the Bridgewater Canal at Castlefield Basin in Manchester to join the Calder and Hebble Navigation at Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire.

As built, the canal had 92 locks. Whilst the traditional lock numbering has been retained on all restored locks, and on the relocated locks, the canal now has 91. Locks 3 and 4 have been replaced with a single deep lock, Tuel Lane Lock, which is numbered 3/4.

Sowerby Bridge (rugby league)

Sowerby Bridge was a (semi) professional rugby league club.

The club was based in Sowerby Bridge, a small market town (population approx. 10,000) that lies within the Upper Calder Valley in the district of Calderdale in West Yorkshire, northern England, and approximately 3 miles from Halifax.

The club joined the Northern Union in 1901-02 and played for the single season in the Yorkshire Senior Competition, which was effectively Division 2 (East).

Only limited County League information is available for this season.

Sowerby Bridge railway station

Sowerby Bridge railway station serves the town of Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire, England. It lies on the Caldervale Line 4.5 miles (7 km) west of Halifax and 21 miles (34 km) west of Leeds.

Trevor Hitchen

Trevor Hitchen (born 25 September 1926) is an English former footballer who played in The Football League for Southport and Oldham Athletic. He was also appointed as player-manager at Wigan Athletic, scoring seven goals in 37 Lancashire Combination games during the 1957–58 season. He finished his career at Formby, where he later became chairman.

Trinity Academy Sowerby Bridge

Trinity Academy Sowerby Bridge is a mixed comprehensive secondary school in Sowerby Bridge, Calderdale, West Yorkshire, England. More than 1,000 girls and boys are pupils at the school and it specialises in maths and computing.

Walter Lees

Walter Scott Lees (25 December 1875, Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire – 10 September 1924, West Hartlepool, County Durham) was a Surrey and England cricketer who played in 5 Tests against South Africa in 1906. On his debut, he took five wickets in the first innings in Johannesburg.

Metropolitan districts
Major settlements

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.