Friday, May 17, 2019

Random History : Tramcar Obscenities


People today just don't know how to behave. There is no discipline. Fighting, swearing, misbehaving on a Corporation tramcar - we didn't act like that when I was young.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

When Burne-Jones Was In Brighouse

I must have walked passed St James Church in Brighouse many times in my youth. It wasn't demolished until 1973, and by that time I have moved out of the area. When I returned in the early 1990s, all signs of its existence at the bottom of Bonegate in Brighouse had been buried under a new housing development. It is a great pity that I never stopped to explore the building when it was still standing, because it appears to have been full of artistic surprises. 

This particular photograph of the Church - which stood on Bradford Road just north of the town centre - does not make it look very grand, but that may be the fault of the postcard photographer rather than the church architect. It was opened in 1870 as a "chapel of ease" for Brighouse Parish Church (St Martin's on Church Lane). It's size - it could accommodate 450 worshippers - reflected Brighouse's status as a growing town, and it's cost (some £3,500) was raised by local subscription.

Detail of Cruxifiction Window by Edward Burne-Jones from St James Church Brighouse. Now in Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley: Photograph Wikimedia Commons.

Shortly it opened two stained glass windows by the famous Pre-Raphaelite artist, Edward Burne-Jones, were installed; and later further windows by Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti were added. The church was eventually closed in 1970 (exactly 100 years after it was opened) and it was demolished in 1973. Luckily, the windows were saved and can now be found in Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley. From illustrations I have seen of them, they were significant works of art, and a visit to Cliffe Castle to see them is high on my to-do list. Perhaps if I add paid more attention fifty years ago, I would have seen them in their original location.

Thursday, April 25, 2019


Dean Clough Mills 1971
Slubbing Dyeing = The dyeing of textile fibres prior to spinning
Melange Printing = Printing of textile fibres with bands of colour alternating with unprinted areas

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


This was advertised as a vintage postcard on eBay, but it shows a Halifax I remember well. I caught a bus from that stop, I went to the Saturday morning cinema club at that cinema. I have become vintage in my own lifetime.

A little further investigation gives a more reliable date range. The Victoria Hall was still being used as a cinema which means that it was before 1953. Miss Tatlock's Millions starring Wanda Hendrix was first released in 1948, so it must have been after that. With such a time window, I was undoubtedly around, albeit on the young side. 

With nothing better to do, I went over to YouTube and watched the first part of Miss Tatlock's Millions. Vintage as I may be, I hope I have aged better than the film!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Saving Souls

Like some latter-day Victorian parson, I occasionally think I am in the business of saving souls. Many of the nineteenth century studio portraits that come into my possession are showing their age: spots of mould eat into the very soul of the image. A little careful renovation makes them fit fore another century or two.

This is a Cabinet Card from the studio of Alfred Hughes of 433, The Strand, London. Normally one has no idea of whom the subjects of such portraits are, but here we have been provided with a signature at least - and the Rev W Murray seems set to save some souls of his own.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Old Lane and Dean Clough (1971)

A classic Halifax scene which has been recorded by many better photographers than I. The grey chimneys fading into the grey skies make good photographers of us all.

I must have taken this photograph in 1970, back in the days when Dean Clough was still producing carpets by the acre. The great photographer Bill Brandt walked these same street forty years earlier. The street and mill still exists, but these days, the scene has gained colour.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Postcards And Quink Ink

A postcard from 1904 showing Southgate in Halifax. The buildings have a warm familiarity about them. Ryley's stationers brings back warm memories of ledgers and Quink Ink.

29 December 1904 : To: Miss Richardson c/o Mrs Rawson, The Banks, Padiham, Lancashire
Dear Nance, Thanks for the P.C. I am sorry you did not get the one I sent before. Winnie forgot to post it until I got home Tuesday night. We went to see Babes In The Wood at the Royal. Theatre is a new house opened this Xmas for the Pantomime, enjoyed it very much. I remember the P.C. very well, it put me in mind of one Sunday afternoon we went a walk. Must make haste for post with love from your ever loving friend, Maggie. I got this when in Halifax. I will write for Sunday.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

'Twixt Trident And TV Aerial

When Britannia is not ruling the waves she can be found overlooking Elland Bridge from her perch on top of the old Halifax and Huddersfield Bank building. In this 1970 photo from my archives she is snuggled between the chimney pots, 'twixt trident and TV aerial.

What More Can Be Said?

There is something very distinctive about this Victorian lady, who was photographed by Dupont's studio in Brussels in 1893. There is a signature on the reverse, but it is indecipherable. It also says the word "Eindhoven" which I assume was where she was from. 

The Dupont family had been leading photographers in the Belgian capital since the 1840s, and later went on to open studios in a number of other European cities. At the time that this photograph was taken, the Dupont Studio advertised itself as:  "Photographers to the diplomatic corps, to the great bodies of state, the magistrature, the army, the ministries, the public administrations, the world of letters, science and the arts etc" What more can be said?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Lava Flows And Burdock

It is difficult to appreciate the scale of the construction of Burdock Way in Halifax from a modern perspective: new buildings have taken root, trees have filled the empty spaces, the highway has "bedded-in" to the local scenery. I must have taken this photograph in 1970, when construction had just started, and you almost get the feeling of a great river of molten lava flowing down from Beacon Hill had destroying everything in its course. This is not an "old man complaining about change" post, however: I think Burdock Way was a brave and a forward-thinking project, which still has elements of structural beauty about it. Nevertheless, it is interesting to let your eye wander around the image, catching sight of that which was, but is no more.

Looking at this photograph I took 50 years ago, it almost looks as if a river of molten lava has flowed down Beacon Hill and through Halifax. That was Burdock Way in the making.