Heb­den Bridge is known for its cre­ative and inde­pen­dent spir­it, and music is a vibrant and impor­tant part of that. There’s the annu­al Folk Roots Fes­ti­val; thriv­ing grass­roots venue The Trades Club, and any num­ber of pubs across the area that host live music. More recent­ly the town has become known for pro­duc­ing a wave of tal­ent­ed young bands such as The Orielles, Work­ing Mens Club, The Lounge Soci­ety, Splint and The Short Causeway. 

A recent excit­ing event has shone a spot­light on the 1970s with the dis­cov­ery of a cache of songs by a young folk singer-song­writer called Trevor Beales. He was pro­duc­ing his work and singing at local pubs dur­ing more dif­fi­cult times. An album of his solo work has now been com­piled, called Fire­side Sto­ries (Heb­den Bridge cir­ca 1971–1974), for release in December. 

Trevor Beales was born in Heb­den Bridge in 1954, before the town became colonised by artists, writ­ers and hip­pies from the mid six­ties onwards, bring­ing new life and ener­gy to a place that had become neglect­ed and depop­u­lat­ed. Peo­ple had fled after the mills closed and the town was dark and dank; poet lau­re­ate Ted Hugh­es called the area “the fouled nest of indus­tri­al­i­sa­tion”. Yet this is where Trevor found his inspi­ra­tion, both musi­cal­ly and lyri­cal­ly, as the 1960s and its ide­al­ism gave way to the 70s, with strikes, ris­ing unem­ploy­ment and eco­nom­ic upheaval.

Trevor pro­duced his ear­li­est songs less than a year after he left school (an unearthed report writ­ten by his head­teacher on July 3rd 1970 not­ed he had “a con­sid­er­able abil­i­ty and inter­est in music”, though his edu­ca­tion end­ed abrupt­ly when he sim­ply walked out of a sci­ence les­son one sun­ny day while at sixth form, nev­er to return).

Beales writes with a vision that is “defi­ant­ly North­ern”; there’s a world-weari­ness and a prac­ti­cal­i­ty of life expressed in some of his songs. Take Then I’ll Take You Home, for exam­ple, which express­es his frus­tra­tion with the Guru Mahara­ji who was attract­ing fol­low­ers in Heb­den Bridge to his cause; Beales was a lit­tle more cir­cum­spect. He writes:

“Please don’t tell me your light is divine and it’s way ahead of mine,
Sit and argue I don’t real­ly have the time,
Buy your new-born king a new Rolls-Royce like the one he had before
But did­n’t Jesus ride the low­est crea­ture known”

It is a plea­sure to lis­ten to Beales’ flu­id, sen­si­tive gui­tar-pick­ing style and his emo­tive vocals. Writes Ben­jamin Myers (The Gal­lows Pole / Fire­side Sto­ries sleeve notes): “This is music that can con­fi­dent­ly hold its own with pio­neers such as Dav­ey Gra­ham, Michael Chap­man, Bert Jan­sch and Jack­son C Frank, as influ­enced by jazz, blues and steel gui­tar as any of the old song­book clas­sics from ancient Albion.” 

On Decem­ber 2nd, the debut com­pi­la­tion of home record­ings, titled Fire­side Sto­ries (Heb­den Bridge cir­ca 1971–1974) will be launched, the songs res­cued from cas­sette tapes. They were record­ed in the attic of Trevor’s fam­i­ly home at Ivy Bank in Charlestown on the wood­ed slopes at the edge of Heb­den Bridge. These ear­ly record­ings are col­lect­ed here for the first time and mark Trevor Beales’ long-over­due solo debut.

Trevor Beales died sud­den­ly and unex­pect­ed­ly on March 29th 1987, aged 33. He left behind Chris­tine and their young child Lydia.

Fire­side Sto­ries (Heb­den Bridge cir­ca 1971–1974) is avail­able to pre order now on Basin Rock Todmorden

Songs and music by Trevor A. Beales Record­ed at 1 Ivy Bank, Charlestown, Heb­den Bridge between 1971–94
Land­scape pho­to­graph of Heb­den Bridge by Char­lie Meecham, 1969–70 https://www.foldedworks.org
Adapt­ed for and video manip­u­la­tions by Nick Far­ri­mond in Tod­mor­den, 2022 https://www.nickfarrimond.co.uk

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