Friday, 18 May 2018

Hebden Bridge: A Source of Inspiration by Sophie Claire

Hebden Bridge is a Yorkshire mill town which has been popular with artists, musicians and creatives since the 1970s.

Nestled amongst the hills, it’s a picturesque place, and it’s also where a group of us, Authors on the Edge, meet regularly to talk books and writing.

L to R: Helen Pollard, Sophie Claire, Kate Field, Marie Laval, Helena Fairfax, Mary Jayne Baker, Melinda Hammond, Jacqui Cooper & Angela Wren
Hebden Bridge is packed with inspiration, from the historic mills, some of which have been converted into artists’ studios, to the volatile River Calder (which sometimes floods with serious consequences for the town centre) and the beautiful hills which encircle the town. You won’t find any American coffee or fast food chains here. Instead, Hebden Bridge is overflowing with independent shops and cafés, and this is what gives the place its unique character. 

So when we decided to write an anthology it made perfect sense to set it in the fictional equivalent, Haven Bridge, with an imaginary shop at the heart of all our stories: Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings is a collection of 9 feel-good short stories, all connected by the mysterious Miss Moonshine and her uncanny gift for knowing exactly what each visitor to her shop needs. 

To give you a flavour of the town’s varied and unique shops, I thought I'd share with you a few of my favourite places in Hebden Bridge:
Heart Gallery

With its rose-covered archway and glossy black doors, the exterior of this building provided the inspiration for Miss Moonshine’s emporium. 

In reality, it’s a gallery selling jewellery and art. The beautiful stock changes regularly, and it's a place I love to linger. Prices range from very affordable to the more aspirational.


Another favourite of mine, this shop provided inspiration for the interior of Miss Moonshine’s. It sells a huge range of quality items: clothes, crockery, jewellery, bags, home decorations, greetings name but a few. The sheer variety inspired Miss Moonshine's eclectic range of goods to sell. 

Spirals interior

If you visit Spirals, you’ll recognise the stone steps and the fireplace upstairs. I love to shop here and always find unique gifts. I usually come away with something for myself, too. In fact, I've bought several pairs of earrings here and this was what inspired me to write about a jewellery designer in my short story, The Angel Stone. There's something very personal about jewellery and I always wonder about the person who crafted it. Who are they, what's their story, and how much work and thought went into making each piece?

Yorkshire Soap Company

Who couldn’t love a shop which, rain or shine, pumps bubbles into the street? It lends the town a quite surreal air, especially in the snow, or in the sunshine when the bubbles catch the light...

And look at the display inside – a visual feast of scented soaps shaped like candles, cupcakes or glittery bath bombs. Also a great shop for gift-buying, I defy you not to find a soap you have to take home with you.

Valentine's Café

Meetings to discuss writing require fuel, and cake is the food of choice for most writers. At Valentine’s the cakes are homemade and delicious – I can recommend them.

Hebden Bridge Mill

If you want to find the closest thing to Miss Moonshine’s Wonderful Emporium, pay a visit to this place. Filled with stalls selling a variety of vintage treasures, you could lose hours in here. Every object tells a story, from an antique suitcase to a handcrafted Steampunk top hat!

One Step Beyond

This vintage dress shop is small but perfectly formed. The owner adapts the clothes herself, and she has excellent taste. You'll find a variety of designer and high street labels, sometimes in their original condition, sometimes adapted to bring them up to date. I have yet to come away empty-handed.

The Quilt Cabin

Another small treasure of a shop, I can’t help but indulge my love of patchwork and quilting by visiting. How can such a small shop contain so many inspiring display quilts and fabrics?

Last time I stopped by I found these beautiful Provençal fabrics.

Provençal fabrics

The Canal

The walk from the station down to the town centre takes you along the tow path with the park on one side and the canal on the other. I wasn’t the only writer to be inspired by this and to feature a canal boat in my story. There’s a feeling of serene calm here, and when the sun is shining it’s even more special.

Which special places have inspired your writing? I’d love to hear from you…


Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings is available as e-book and paperback from:

Amazon UK
Amazon USA


  1. Thank you Sophie for sharing your lovely photos. Hebden Bridge is one of my favourite towns and I always take visitors there. I'm looking forward to reading about Miss Moonshine.


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