31 January 2013 - Paul Barker

posted 11 Feb 2013, 15:32 by dartmouth park   [ updated 11 Feb 2013, 17:17 ]
Paul Barker “HEBDEN BRIDGE: A Sense of Belonging”

Thursday 31 January 2013 at 7.30pm
At Highgate Library, Chester Road N19

Paul Barker

 Photographs by Paul Kafno

How many London people are "really" Londoners? Social historian Paul Barker has lived in NW5 for decades. Yet he still feels that he "belongs" to Hebden Bridge, the small, hilly West Yorkshire textile town, among moors, where he grew up. His book is a personal memoir, but also an exploration of what "a sense of place" means. He portrays very colourfully the strong, tight-knit, mostly working class culture of "Co-op and chapel." Personal and family memories are underpinned by entertaining vignettes of local stalwarts.

Paul also brings the story up to date. Mills closed, the local Cooperative Society went bust, chapels were felled. But locally-born Ted Hughes hymned these hillsides (and buried his wife, Sylvia Plath, here). Fay Godwin and Martin Parr took some famous photographs. Social and economic renewal sprang from the arts and eco-radicalism. Hebden Bridge ("t' Brig") now manufactures lifestyles, instead of textiles. It is a prolific source of letters to the Guardian.

In the past half-century, NW5 itself has been much gentrified. More recently, Hebden Bridge has pioneered "greentrification," which is the countryside version. Paul will talk about these multiple changes - and how he can still claim to be a loyal Briggite.