1) Although ‘hebble’ had two related meanings it was most frequently used for a narrow, wooden bridge – a definition found in the Almondbury burial register in 1559.

The entry for William Brygge of Meltham stated that he was drowned as he shoulde have come over at a hebble or narowe brygge. A tempest off wynde blewe hym sodenlye into [the] water. There seems to have been an awareness from an early date that it is a dialect word, for one bridge or heble is recorded in Dewsbury in 1594 and the Bridge or Heble in Huddersfield in 1722. Compound terms which include the word are footeheble in 1664, dealt with separately, and heble-bridge between Ribstone and Deighton in 1688. Surprisingly, the OED has no entry for hebble although Wright lists the word and it occurs frequently in minor Yorkshire place-names: Hebletwayt in Sedbergh is on record in 1379, Kebroidehebyll in Sowerby in 1456 and Salterheble near Halifax in 1553. The word was also given to the hand-rail of a wooden bridge. This meaning may be implicit in Henry Best’s advice in 1642 that yow putte over two hebbles, one higher then the other, to serve for them to leane against. He was writing about a sheep wash, not a bridge, but documents touching on the condition of Breaks Bridge in 1682 mention that twenty years earlier workmen had taken up the planks and laid new ones: they also hebled itt on both sides [so] that horses with Packs and also footmen might safely pass. The small plancke bridge for one horse onely was then replaced by a stone bridge, but the local inhabitants sought to have it rated as an Heble-bridge’ since they were still responsible for its maintenance.

dates 1379 1456 1553 1559 1594 1642 1688 1722

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