Thursday, September 17, 2009

That Bill Brandt Must Have Been A Tall Chap

The first part of yesterday was spent taking the Lad back to University in Sheffield. The rest of the day was spent in bringing the Lad back to collect the things he had forgotten and taking him back to Sheffield again. From now until Christmas, the house will be that little bit quieter, that little bit tidier and that little bit lonelier. I will miss him dreadfully and I will have to think of endless excuses to drive over to Sheffield so I can take him out for a pint.
On Tuesday, as a final treat, we went for a nostalgic walk around Halifax. I was anxious to go back to the site of perhaps one of the most famous images of the twentieth century : Bill Brandt's majestic "Snicket in Halifax". Brandt was a photojournalist and one of the most celebrated photographers of the twentieth century and the Halifax pictures were taken in 1937 when he was undertaking a commission for Lilliput Magazine. From previous expeditions I knew where the site of the snicket photo was but I was keen to return as I wanted to try and track down the exact angle Brandt had used to get his famous image. As this meant that I needed someone to hold a copy of the original Brandt image why I scrambled up walls and hung from vegetation I needed an assistant : hence the need for the Lad to come with me. If you have a matchbox-full of insight you will have already guessed that this was simply an excuse for getting a day out with the Lad before he returned to Uni.
After a fair amount of messing about I think I found almost the right spot, the spot where Brandt must have stood 72 years ago. The famous hand-rail is wobbly now (aren't we all?) but the mill is still there (although some idiot has cleaned it) and the cobbles are just about intact. However hard I tried I could not get the exact angle : that Bill Brandt must have been a tall chap. But it didn't matter, it was all an excuse.

16 comments:

  1. Love shots like this, wet cobbles always seem to work. Our family were all from Sheffield and I still remember the gennel (ginil) everyone seems to spell it differently, that linked the top of my grandmother's road (Fulmer Road, Hunters Bar) to the next road. Drove up the road, its a cul-de-sac, a few years back, still looks the same.

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  2. I always think of hi-contrast, when I think of Brandt's work. One of my favs among the pack. Happy TT. -J

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  3. That is really amazing! I can see why you wanted to seek it out and take the photograph. Hanging from vegetation, huh? Glad Alex was along to help you. I love how you describe your home when he is gone...tidier, quieter, but lonelier. That just about sums it up here when ours is gone, too!

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  4. love the b&w shots. very cool. hope you learn to enjoy the silence even though i am sure you will miss him. hope you have a great day!

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  5. Wjat a great idea--tracking down the setting of a famous photo. Had never seen Brandt's photo--it is quite remarkable. Hope you can think of sufficient reasons to travel to Sheffield--this one sounds like a fun outing.

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  6. Not having Xander ever operate on me then, he'd obviously leave all the instruments inside!

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  7. Although I,m A Halifax Lad I,m Ashamed To Admit I dont know where those Cobbles are! .... Around Dean Clough perhaps?

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  8. John : Yes there is something very photogenic about wet cobbles - so much reflection, so many tones. I know Hunters Bar well, we used to live close to there.
    Edwin : You and me both.
    Tony : Yes you got it. If you take the road which goes under North Bridge and leads you up the back side of the Dean Clough complex, it is there. It is where the old Halifax North Bridge station used to be.

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  9. Perhaps he merely stood upon a box?

    I must admit that I'm unfamiliar with both the photograph and Bill Brandt... gonna have to look them up.

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  10. Great shots! you did Bill proud!

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  11. That shot is fantastic. It was worth the effort. It was good the Lad was along just in case you were slip, sliding away. That was fun to recapture a famous photo.

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  12. Turn up the contrast and sweep the path before taking the photo, and you're there. I can photoshop it for you, it you'd like me to.

    However, as you say, it was an excuse.

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  13. I didnt even know of the North Bridge Station!I remember hundreds of houses all around that area (Haley Hill used to have a brilliant old record shop that sold wonderful,dusty Vinyl LPs and 78s.& as a kid i went swimming at an old baths near where the Ambulance Station now sits.Akroyd Place Baths I think.......)But i dont remember the station.Wow Alan ,Interesting stuff!

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  14. Bill : I could do the photoshop stuff but could you come up and sweep the path.
    Tony : Ackroydon Place Swimming Baths! I had forgotten all about that dreadful place.
    Everyone : Thanks for all the comments.

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  15. Wow! I love both versions of the photo. I think you captured the image quite well.

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  16. Yes they are the steps up to North Bridge Station, now a car park, they are still there as is the old footbridge which once crossed the busy railway lines.

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