Innovation Cafe & Bar
Through Innovation gift shop into this riverside cafe which is:
• part restoration of the Hebden Bridge Mill, complete with rebuilt waterwheel (there’s been a mill on this site since 1314);
• part sustainable energy showcase – boasting a ground-source heatpump which extracts heat from the river water (even in winter!), a solar water heating system, a 10kw-producing Archimedes-screw water turbine in the old mill race, and LED lighting throughout (the waterwheel, which will soon charge 12-volt batteries, is gloriously lit by colour-change LEDs);
• part 1970’s style self-service cafeteria, with long slippery counters to push your tray along while gazing into cabinets of gateaux and fruit cake;
• part modern cafe-bar serving organic local ales, wine by the glass or bottle, tapas and locally-sourced meat from the town butcher.
Innovation is an eatery that lives up to its name, being simultaneously innovative, old fashioned, down to earth and cutting edge. If you’re lucky you might bump into the owner, who possesses a similar mix of qualities. Eccentric yet pragmatic, he impressed me with his five-point energy plan which has resulted in Innovation providing power to the grid rather than taking energy from it. The five points have recently expanded to six, with the purchase of an electric car. This is sustainability because it makes sense; thrifty sense, as well as planet-saving sense.
The food is almost secondary to the story and history of this place, but there’s a good selection of salads, nachos, jacket potatoes, sweet and savoury pancakes, toasted teacakes and muffins, plus “specials” and a the very tempting cake counter. A good quality full English breakfast is just £5.50, cinnamon-raisin bagel with cream cheese a great value £1.50. Soup and a sandwich is £5.25 Mon-Fri and cream tea for two costs £7. There are icecream shakes, and simple child-friendly savouries for just £2. Check the blackboard for Yorkshire specialities – Dave loved the venison sausage with mash and gravy.