HAPPY to play our part – famous Happy Valley Nisa Local convenience store becomes tourism hotspot
The BBC’s television series Happy Valley may have come to an end earlier this month after nine years, but the legacy of the series lives on within the walls of the famous Nisa Local store.
Filming began in Hebden Bridge ten years ago and the final episode was aired on BBC One on Sunday, 5 February 2023.
The Nisa Local store, which is owned by Amacor following an acquisition in May 2021, plays a prominent role in the series as the workplace of shopkeeper Neil Askroyd.
The store’s real-life manager, Martin Turner, has worked for the convenience store for over 15 years and admits he didn’t expect so much attention from visiting tourists to Calder Valley.
“The previous owner of the store was approached about a new series which would be shown on the BBC, and he allowed them to film in the store about ten years ago now,” explained Martin.
“For continuity reasons the production company kept in touch and used the store in each series. They approached us and asked if they could film and we were happy to be part of the Happy Valley journey.
“There’s been a big impact on the local area and we’ve seen a lot of tourists visiting the area – particularly over the last couple of weeks. We have had so many fans of the show turn up just to have a look around and take photographs both inside and outside the store.
“It does make me laugh when I see so many people stood outside the store waiting for the opportunity to take a photograph – 10 years ago I’d have wondered what was going on, but I don’t mind it.
“The feel of the store is the same as I’ve known it since I started working here, but I understand a lot of people feel connected with the store now after watching the series.”
Martin and other staff at the Nisa Local spent several hours at a time working alongside well-known actors and actresses and admits several visiting fans of the series still pop into the store to ask for Neil!
“The actors in the series were fantastic to deal with,” added Martin.
“Con O’Neill, who played Neil the shopkeeper in the series, was obviously in the store quite a lot on filming days and he was great. We’ve had so many members of the public come to the front and ask, ‘when’s Neil working next?’ and I’m not sure all of them are joking! I think a lot of them think Neil actually works here!
“Sarah Lancashire, who plays Catherine, was here for the second lot of filming and again she was a pleasure to have in the store. She actually stayed just around the corner to us so she did a lot of shopping in the store during days away from filming.”
Although happy to play host to the series, Martin admits he is yet to watch the series and has instead spent his time ensuring the store maintains its local community feel.
“I did see a few clips during the first series because I was curious how the shots of the store looked on TV but I’ve not watched it back fully yet. It is a unique opportunity we have been involved with over the past 10 years and it is nice to see the shop I have always known become one of the most recognisable in the UK.
“I welcome new visitors to the area and the series has been good for Hebden Bridge but our store is here to provide for our local community and those loyal customers will always be our bread and butter.”
Scott Sandford, Amacor’s Head of Retail, said: “It’s a great local, community store which we are proud to have in our estate. We have plans to invest in the store and provide an even better shopping experience for our customers.”