Thursday, March 21, 2019

Postcards From Home : Halifax From Beacon Hill


Much of my early life seems to be in this old picture postcard. My father worked at the factory on the left; for a time I worked in the mill on the right. My school is on the horizon, my youth in the soot-coated streets around the market.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Fat Tummy Of Princess Alix


This rather chubby baby was the first photograph in one of my parent's photograph albums. Theoretically it should be either me or my brother, but it looks nothing like Roger, and I have never been that fat. I tried facial recognition: Lightroom suggested it was my son whilst Google suggested that it was Princess Alix of Hesse, the wife of Tsar Nicholas II (both suggestions highlight the limitations of facial recognition technology). I asked my wife who it might be: she simply smiled and said "I would recognise your fat little tummy anywhere!".

Friday, March 08, 2019

Five From Brighouse : 5. With Alfred Hitchcock in Brighouse


I am ending this short tour of Brighouse back in the 1960s with a return to the market. There is, however, something slightly odd about this final negative scan. Looking carefully at the young chap towards the right of the group of market shoppers, I have the distinct impression that it might be me. But if it is, who took the photograph? I am sure that I was responsible for the rest of the shots on this particular strip of film, but did I have a sturdy tripod and time delay, or an accommodating assistant? However it was done it appears that, like Alfred Hitchcock, I have made a guest appearance in one of my own films.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Five From Brighouse : 4. No Waiting This Side


It is still 1966 and we have moved back from Brighouse Market onto Commercial Street. There are no yellow lines and no parking meters, but be careful, there is no waiting on this side today.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Five From Brighouse : 3. A Time Of Ajax And Omo


We are still in Brighouse, still in the old open air market. We are still in the time of Ajax and Omo; we are still in the land of plastic rain hats and eggs piled high on trays. It is raining, which is surprising, because it never rained when I was young.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Five From Brighouse : 2. Clean And Bright And Full Of Life

Brighouse Market 1966 (Alan Burnett)
All sorts of things are evocative of a time, but in this particular case it is the Geest banana boxes and the advert for Worthington beers. They are as dated as the view itself. The Worthington jingle went thus: "What about a Worthington? Britain's finest beer; What about a Worthington? It makes you want to cheer; It's clean and bright and full of life ..." The final line has been lost in history, but you can make it up without too much effort.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Five From Brighouse : 1. 1960s Headscarves


My old 35mm negatives are cut into strips of five or six. This week I am focussing on a strip of five negatives from the mid 1960s - at a guess 1966. All five photographs were taken in Brighouse - the majority of them within Brighouse Street Market. The styles of the coats, the size of the bags and the cut of the headscarves; all proclaim the 1960s.

Postcards From Home : Halifax Town Hall - Saved By The Banks


This old picture postcard was never used and therefore we don't have a postmark to help us date it. It was published by a Halifax firm - Ryley's of 27, Southgate - but I have been unable to trace when they were active in business. The photograph appears to have been taken at eight in the morning and there is little traffic about to help us with the dating process, other than a rather indistinct motorcycle of indeterminate vintage. This, however, is one of those rare occasions when we can proclaim "Saved by the Bank!". On the corner of Crossley Street and Town Hall Street East in the picture, you can plainly make out the offices of the Union of London and Smiths Bank Limited. This particular conglomerate was formed in 1903 by the merger of the Union Bank of London and Smiths Bank, but was short lived; being acquired in 1918 by the National Provincial Bank, and being renamed the National Provincial and Union Bank of England. Banks - neither then nor now - have ever been shy about spending a bob or two to re-brand themselves, so we can assume that the old name plates were quickly taken down and replaced by new ones. We therefore have a time window: the rest is down to gut instincts based on design, printing process and the look of the streets. In conclusion, I suspect that we are looking at a photograph of Halifax Town Hall taken somewhere around 1912.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Postcards From Home : The First Tram In Space


This is another old view of a road I knew so well. I used to walk down from school and then take a short cut from Clover Hill Road to Well Head and then the Bus Station for the bus home. There won't have been tram lines there in my school days, but somehow the memories all get jumbled up. My school days seem so long ago, and yet I can remember seeing a newspaper billboard outside the newsagents shop here (where the Swiss Cafe was, I think), announcing the first man in space. Ot maybe, the first tram in space.


The reverse of the card is, as always, interesting in its own right. Written in December 1909, it is a thank you note for presents which will have been sent for Christmas. Addressed to "Captain Pacey", it starts, "Dear Sister"; so I strongly suspect we are dealing with a member of the Salvation Army. There was a Salvation Army Maternity Hospital in Hackney around the time of this postcard, so perhaps that is a clue. But there again, Captain Pacey may have been the pilot of the intergalactic spaceship that regularly left from the Swiss Cottage Cafe in Halifax for the dark side of the moon.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Sepia Saturday 458 : Einstein Goes To Cannes


Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features a 1910 photograph of a wine merchant's shop in France. I have to admit, there was a temptation to follow an alcoholic theme, but this is the morning after the night before at the pub, so I will stay clear of all alcoholic references and go to France instead. Rather than go back 100 years, I am going back just over fifty, to the summer of 1962, and a great family adventure when we headed abroad for the first time for a camping holiday in France.

My main photograph show my parents - Albert and Gladys - trying to cool off in the shade of a palm tree. I still cannot work out why they decided to go to France, it was a most un-Albertish thing to do (my Father would consider a trip to Dewsbury as being akin to a wild adventure). To go to a country where they didn't speak Yorkshire, to eat foreign food, and - worst of all - to drive on the wrong side of the road, was behaviour which was most out of character.



I was about fourteen at the time and I still remember the trip well. When we eventually arrived in the South of France, my poor father ventured out into the sun and finished up with severe sunburn, and he had to spend the rest of the holiday in the shade. My mother was slightly more careful. limiting herself to the occasional paddle in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.


Looking back at these photographs now, and taking into account that fifty years separates the theme image from my photos, and the same period separates my photos from today: what is fascinating is the warping of time. The old French wine merchant's shop seems like history: a different world, long, long ago. My photos from the south of France seem like only yesterday. Is this to do with Einstein's theory of light and time - or is it simply that I am getting old?

To see more posts based on this Sepia Saturday theme image, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links