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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