Monday, November 23, 2009

Halifax : Fading Into History




I was sorting through some books and papers today and I came across a collection of photographs of Old Yorkshire. One caught my eye - it was a view looking over Halifax taken in 1958 and there is a copy of it above. It was a familiar view for me, I would see it every day as I sat on the upstairs front seat of the bus taking me from my home in the village of Northowram and into Halifax and my school. As the bus swept out from Godley cuttings, Halifax would be spread out before me. The smoke would belch out of the cooling towers and mill chimneys, the soot-black stone chimneys silhouetted against the smoke-swept sky.

I took the second photograph a few years ago from the same hillside (although a few hundred yards further south). It shows a very different Halifax, 50 years on from the first view. Most of the mills - and the mill chimneys - have long gone and the steam and smoke is a thing of the distant past. The modern building that dominates the centre of the photograph is the headquarters of the Halifax Building Society, or at least it was when the photograph was taken. And then it merged with the Bank of Scotland to become HBOS and then, after the great collapse, it was taken over by Lloyds Bank. With the current uncertainty in the financial sector one is forced to wonder how long it will be before it fades into history, just like those mills and factories of fifty years earlier.



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18 comments:

  1. I love "then and now" photos! I recently gave WT a book of photos that show various Civil War locations then, and now. In this particular case, I was suprised how much the local hadn't changed.

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  2. ...locale, that is :^)

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  3. Incredibly, it doesn't appear to be raining. From my brief time up here I have come to believe that it rains most days!

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  4. Good comparison shots, I love the top one. It reminds me of visiting my grandparents in Sheffield in the early 50s, almost all of the old steelworks have gone, hard to call it the City of Steel now. I know they were horrible and dirty, and I would not like to be living now in the houses I remember my grandparents had, but the city lacks something now. Or maybe it's time to accept what it is but enjoy the old photos.

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  5. great shots...time passes and the world changes...for the better? we can only hope.

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  6. Wow - what a huge difference and such a cleaner skyline. Mind you, I was looking at my home town on the satellite view of Google Maps the other day, and that is unrecognisable too. Everything is transient...

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  7. Great comparison shots--those are so very interesting!

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  8. It's amazing how much things change visually... but ironic that we are back to financial uncertainty...

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  9. Gosh, it's easy to forget how smoky our northern towns were, even a mere 50 years ago. A very interesting post again, Alan - and thank you for honourable mention.

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  10. Yes, it does make me wonder how long before the banking sector fades away. And then, what would replace it. Very interesting.

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  11. I can't say I'm sorry to see the mills and smokestacks gone but I guess they were the staple industries of the north back then. I remember Britain banning coal fires to reduce the black soot that clawed all the old buildings. Black churches and schools were common years ago.

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  12. I love the comparison of the photos, Alan. Quite a difference between the two. Thanks so much for sharing them with all of us.

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  13. Yes, you bring up a very compelling things that--our testaments to the past and what comes of them, espcailyl not when torn down. For example, the Sears Tower in Chicago is actually owned by a British comes and is named as "the Wright Centre" or somthing like that but it never caught on. Then there is the Empire State to I believe and even our American football stadium in Denver was rebuilt a new and called Invesco Filed but everyone calls it by the old name--Mile High!

    Great photo, btw.

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  14. At least the air is cleaner. Unless you don't like finance personnel, that is.

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  15. No Doubt It Will Soon Become A McDonald's ! Also, sadly, the old Ramsdens Brewery Was Knocked Down To Make Way For It's Building.Sad Priorities!

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  16. That was quite a change. I can remember seeing photos like that over here with their factories. My bus ride was up and down and winding around on gravel roads to get to school from the farm. The town of course was about 600 people large and is about the same still today. Instead of rebuilding here, we spread west, and leave the old there to decay or to tear it down and not rebuild.

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  17. No wonder we have global warming. Those northern towns could have been solely responsible for kicking it off, with China now taking over the mantle.

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  18. I lived for years in Halifax (Boothtown). I can imagine where you took that photo: just a bit South of where the Rowntree Mac buildings used to be.

    1958 was the year I was born (but I didn't end up in Halifax till I was a lot older).

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