Tuesday, November 19, 2019

John Shaw And The Photographic Bandwagon


This rather stern looking lady was captured by the Heckmondwike studio of John S Shaw. John Shaw was born near Halifax in 1815, and for most of his working life was a farmer in Staffordshire. Only when he was in his sixties to he return to his native West Yorkshire to climb aboard the commercial band-wagon which was studio photography. The last two decades of the nineteenth century was the great age of the popular studio portrait. Production techniques meant that studio portraits were no longer the preserve of the wealthy, and the new age of home photography had not yet arrived. Every town and village needed its photographic studio, and a wide range of men - and a few notable women - were attracted into the profession. They were the computer repair shops, mobile phone case sellers, and Turkish barbers of their day. Unlike all such recent trends, however, they left a lasting legacy which still can be appreciated over one hundred years later.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Postcards From Home : Old Market, Halifax


This 1904 postcard shows a view that will still be familiar to any Halifax resident: the grand facade of the Old Market Arcade, looking towards Market Street and the Woolshops area.  The buildings at the bottom of Old Market have changed since this photograph was taken - and are changing again - but the gloroious building that dominates this scene is still just as magnificent today as it was at the beginning of the last century. The shop at the bottom of Old Market was that of Eagland Bray & Son, grocer and provisioner. Eagland Bray established the firm sixty years before this photograph was taken, and during his life he was a prominent town councillor and pillar of the Wesleyan church. The shop on the top corner of Old Market was that of Gibson Dixon, chemist, druggist, and mineral water manufacturer. We should never take for granted the pleasure and delight of being able to walk by, and shop in,  these same magnificent buildings today.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Our Naffie


This is a picture from an album of photographs that were largely taken in India in the 1930s. The album belonged to my wife's uncle, Jim Carthew, an army sergeant who saw service in India and Afghanistan. This particular photograph has the caption "Our Naffie", which, I assume, is the name given to the local who provided tea for the soldiers - a play on the acronym NAAFI (The Navy Army, and Air Force Institute). The photograph is less than ninety years old, but it is a photograph of a very different world.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Postcards From Home : Across North Bridge


A vintage postcard of North Bridge, in Halifax, back in the days when it was the main route out of town to the north. Back then, the buildings hugged the side of the road at both ends of the bridge, and it did not have to live under the concrete shadow of the Burdock Way overpass. People streamed over the bridge, as did trams and horses and carts, on their way to Boothtown, Northowram, Southowram and beyond. The building on the right of the picture is the old Grand Theatre, now sadly gone, but when I started crossing the bridge on a daily basis in the late 1950s, it was still just about there. The buildings on the left still survive, but look lost and a little lonely these days. Practically all of what you can see on the far side of the bridge, was swept away in the construction of Burdock Way and its associated roads and roundabout some fifty years ago. I can just about remember the area as a patchwork of shops, mills, pubs and streets of terraced houses.


This particular postcard was posted in 1913, although the photograph probably dates from ten years earlier. The card was sent to Alice and Edith Nutter from their friend Gladys, and is full for the inconsequential chatter that is now the stuff of text messages. Undoubtedly, text messages are cheaper and quicker to reach their destination. But who will look at a text message in one hundred years time and see a picture of Halifax that no longer exists?


Friday, November 08, 2019

The Shaw Syke Redemption



The final two negatives from a 35mm strip shot almost forty years ago show what was left then - and I suspect what still exists now - of the very first Halifax Station. Built  at Shaw Syke in 1844 as the terminus for a branch of the Manchester and Leeds Railway, it survived less than ten years before being replaced by the new station a few hundred yards to the north east.


Thursday, November 07, 2019

Two Gentlemen Of Brighouse



If Shakespeare had been around in the days of Brexit, he might have written a play called Two Gentlemen Of Brighouse, in which two friends, Herbert and Wilfred, travelled to Bradford in pursuit of the same girl, Ethel. This lovely little Victorian photo from the studio of the Brighouse photographer, Martin Manley, would have made a perfect illustration for such a play.

The career of Martin Manley traces the rise and fall of the Victorian studio photography craze. Born in Brighouse in 1850, he was the son of a family of moderate means who owned land and houses in the Bonegate area of the town. In the 1871 census, he is listed as "living from income derived from homes and land", but by 1881 he is listed as being a photographer. This little Carte de Visite must date from the 1880s or 1890s and he is now listing himself as an "Artist in Photography, Miniature and Portrait Painter Etc". By the time of the 1901 census the boom years for Victorian studio photographers are beginning to fade, and Manley is now listed as an "optician and photographer", and ten years later all reference to photography are dropped.

Irrespective of his career path, Martin Manley appears to have remained a keen photographer all his life. He was one of the founder members of the Brighouse Photographic Society, and as early as 1874 there are newspaper reports of him exhibiting his photographs of members of the Royal Family and "famous views of London" at local gatherings.



Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Looking On


Hidden away at the corner of a throw-away old photo is a haunting image that transcends time and place. The child looks on and, in turn, we look on, whilst the supposed subjects look at us.


Monday, November 04, 2019

Monochrome Valley : Snow, Grit And Cold Stone Steps



Two more from the same strip of negatives from thirty-nine years ago; two more from the area around Union Street and Hunger Hill, Halifax. Snow, back in those monochrome days, was a different entity: always dirty, layered with grit. These houses are built on a hillside, with their own terraced pavements up a flight of cold stone steps




Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Monochrome Valley : Hope Clings On


This is a scan of the first of six 35mm negatives I must have taken in about 1980: which to me sounds like only yesterday, but I am alarmed to realise is almost forty years ago! It was taken in that strange little segment of Halifax that is bounded by Prescott Street, Clare Road, Hunger Hill and South Parade. The building that dominates the shot is what is left of that fine eighteenth century house, Hope Hall, and what is now the home of the Albany Club.

Hope Hall was built in the 1760s by David Stansfield, a wealthy local cloth merchant. In the 1820s it was the home of Christopher Rawson - who was the somewhat dubious villain of the first series of Gentleman Jack - and one can half imagine Anne Lister stomping up the stone steps that gave access to what, at that time, would have been an imposing entrance. Now the front of the Hall has become the back and lost amongst cobbled streets and terraced houses.

Little has changed in the forty years since I took the photograph other than some of the soot has been power-washed off the stone and Clare Street has been closed to through traffic.


Monday, October 28, 2019

Postcards From Home : Huddersfield Road, Halifax


This is a scene which will be all too familiar for Halifax residents of this present age. After the long slog up Salterhebble Hill, and the inevitable wait at the hospital traffic lights, drivers heading for Halifax can now speed past the restaurant that used to be the Stafford Arms Inn, with no tram lines or pedestrians walking in the middle of the road to avoid. The Stafford Arms had been around for more than 160 years when it was eventually closed and converted into a restaurant in 2010. I remember it back in the 1960s, when it had the reputation of being a rather superior public house, (needless to say, I wasn't a regular). Alas, it has now gone the way of so many pubs in West Yorkshire, and exists merely as a picture postcard memory.


The card was posted in September 1922 - although I strongly suspect that the photograph dates from at least ten years before that. It appears to have been sent by Mrs Cranford to a Miss King in Lincoln. The message is as follows:-

We got away for a few days. The weather is lovely. I was nearly killed last night climbing hills. This is just at the top where we live.

The hill in question is no doubt Salterhebble Hill, and I can well imagine that poor Mrs Cranford was nearly killed climbing it. When they first built the tramway system in Halifax, they feared that no conventional tramcar could cope with Salterhebble Hill, and for a time considered either a tramcar lift or an inclined plane. Both suggestions were eventually dismissed, and those feisty Edwardian engineers eventually managed to get a conventional tram to climb the hill. If, in this modern day and age, you leave the car behind and choose to walk up the hill, there will be no refreshing pint waiting to reward you at the Stafford Arms.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Sepia Saturday : Enoch And His Cart

A HISTORY OF MY FAMILY IN 100 IMAGES



These two photographs are central to the story of my family because they feature my paternal grandfather, Enoch Burnett. Enoch died a few months after I was born in 1948, and therefore I never knew him, other than by the store of stories and anecdotes that have flowed down the family tree like some rich and thick syrup. 

Born in Bradford in 1878, Enoch was the third of five children of John Burnett, a weaving overlooker in the Bradford woollen mills, and his wife Phoebe. Whilst the daughters, Ruth-Annie and Miriam, followed their father into the mills, the three sons seem to have had a different life journey planned for them. Israel, the eldest son, became an apprentice butcher and later owned a butchers shop in Bradford. The youngest son, Albert, became a carriage builder and involved in the early years of the motor trade. Enoch seemed to take a different path, one less planned, one less certain. The family story suggests that when he was in his early teens he ran away from home and joined a travelling fair. By the latter half of 1898, we know he is back in Bradford and working as a general labourer, and about to marry the local girl he has got pregnant, Harriet Ellen Maxfield. His first child, John Arthur, was born six months later.

According to the 1901 census he was recorded as a "mason's labourer", but with a growing family - his daughters Miriam and Annie-Elizabeth were born in 1901 and 1903 - he decided to branch out into business on his own account as a window cleaning contractor. For this he had a donkey and cart, and I am delighted that I have not one, but two, photographs from this period in his life where he poses proudly next to his donkey.

I think the first of the two photographs is the earlier one, and whilst the donkey is probably the same, the cart is more basic and without the extra bit of sign writing that provides an address - 50 Town End Great Horton, Bradford. According to the 1911 census he was then living at 28 Town End, so this first photograph probably dates from some time between 1906 (when the sign on the later cart claims the business was established) and 1917, when we know for certain that he had moved to 50 Town End.


The additional sign writing on the cart in the second photograph was probably added at the time he changed his address, and therefore this second photograph probably dates from just before or during the first part of the Great War. I have pictures of him taken in 1918 when he was on leave from the trenches of Flanders, and by then he had physically aged. These two photographs represent a golden period in Enoch's life, when he ran his own business and tried to keep the local windows free from the soot and grime of industrial Bradford.



John Shaw And The Photographic Bandwagon

This rather stern looking lady was captured by the Heckmondwike studio of John S Shaw. John Shaw was born near Halifax in 1815, and fo...