A CONSERVATION group has put Holmfirth in its top 20 list of the most thriving market towns in England.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) carried out a study of 120 market towns across England last autumn, to see which ones had managed to retain a strong community spirit and unique local identity.
Holmfirth was in the Top 20 - along with Tavistock (Devon), Frome (Somerset), Skipton (North Yorkshire) and Ludlow (Shropshire), among others.
Members of CPRE branches nationwide visited their local market towns and noted how many shops there were, whether the shops were local stores or national chains, whether local produce was used, whether there were pubs and leisure amenities, whether the style of buildings matched the area's history and whether there were community events.
Market towns were defined as towns with between 3,000 and 30,000 residents.
The Kirklees branch of the CPRE carried out the study in Holmfirth last October.
Branch secretary John Denham - who is also chairman of the West Yorkshire CPRE - said Holmfirth had a wealth of shops which were nearly all local traders, not chain stores.
He said most of the shops used local produce and there were several weekly markets.
Mr Denham said features such as the Picturedrome Cinema, pubs and public services also went in Holmfirth's favour. He said new buildings did not ruin the character of the town, which had a strong community spirit and a range of festivals and events.
He said: "We found it a vibrant town. There is a plethora of cultural and social activities and festivals.
"There is also a dynamic tourism industry which had built up from the sporadic visits which were prompted by Last of the Summer Wine.
"Despite the influence of tourism, the place remains local with a fierce independent spirit."
Mr Denham, who lives at Castle Hill, said the town's only drawback was its congested roads and narrow pavements.
He added: "Overall, this is Pennine Yorkshire at its best."