16 August 2009

Ted Hughes and Mytholmroyd

Ted Hughes (1930–98) was the British Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death. He was born in Mytholmroyd in West Yorkshire, a village just a mile away from the town of Hebden Bridge. He lived there for seven years before moving to Mexborough in South Yorkshire, and these early years were to prove a formative influence on his poetry. At the train station, five large panels show extracts from Hughes's children's story The Iron Man, and have been illustrated by local schoolchildren.
A plaque on the wall of 1 Aspinall Street informs us that Ted Hughes was born here. Aspinall is one of a small cluster of streets immediately north of the Rochdale Canal. Hughes's uncle on his mother Edith's side – Albert Farrar – lived at number 19, and is mentioned in the poem 'The Sacrifice'.
On Midgely Road, the surname is still present on Mount Pleasant Hill:
A two-minute walk along the south-east side of the towpath reveals a tunnel, described in Hughes's poem 'The Long Tunnel Ceiling'. This is where the A646 goes over the canal.
A very informative booklet, which contains the above information and much more about Hughes's early life around Mytholmroyd, often linking features mentioned with particular poems, is John Billingsley's A Laureate's Landscape: Walks around Ted Hughes' Mytholmroyd (Mytholmroyd: Northern Earth, 2007).

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