Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Theme Thursday : History



The trouble with history is that it is infectious. Contagious. Bloody dangerous (this is not a descent into gratuitous swearing, it is often bloody and frequently dangerous). Like MRSA or Clostridium difficile you can catch history from almost anything. People you meet shed history like dandruff and history leaches out of old stone walls and blackened brickwork by some powerful osmotic force. The Boy In The Bubble had history:  it braved his defenses, by-passed his air-lock and crept into his very soul. It will get us all eventually : history will have me and history will have you.

Only yesterday I was taking a short-cut through the little park next to Huddersfield Parish Church, on my way to buy a rather splendid brown striped suit I had seen in the sale at Greenwoods, when I brushed against a small stone sarcophagus. I paused to take a photograph of the offending object, and in that brief moment I must have been infected. By the time I got home (complete with suit - pure new wool, £200 reduced to just £60) sepsis had set in. Leaving the suit in the bag, I downloaded the photograph and set about transcribing the inscription.

"Sacred to the memory of Hannah, wife of Joseph Kaye, builder of Huddersfield who departed this life Jan 27th 1836 in the 53rd year of her age. Also Joseph Kaye, son of the above named Joseph and Hannah Kaye who died June 8th 1855 aged 37. Also the above named Joseph Kaye, builder, who died March 18th 1858, aged 78 years. Also of William Henry Kaye, son of the above, who was born May 15th 1819 and died in Wiesbaden, Germany, Sep 7th 1862. Also Eliza, relict of the above Joseph Kaye who died October 8th 1871 aged 63 years.

The problem with an inscription like this is that there is enough to keep you blogging for a month. Who was Joseph? What did he build? Why did his son die in Germany? Why is poor Eliza nothing more than a relict? The questions become what the microbiologists call systemic. They take over your being and they dominate your life. Like an intellectual tsunami they wash away all thoughts of your new suit.

I have begun to gather answers. Joseph Kaye was the most celebrated local builder of his day who was responsible for building two iconic buildings - the Railway Station and the George Hotel - in the centre of Huddersfield. He was a canny operator who is said to have undercut his competitors' tenders for building the Hotel by "liberating" stone from the adjacent railway station that he was already building. He built many of the local mills and ended up owning one or two of them. I have not yet tracked down why his son died in a German health spa but the infection is still in its early days. The fever that is history has a long way to go before it burns itself out. In the meantime my suit is unworn, my dog is unwalked, my dinner is uncooked and my next blog post is unwritten. That's what history does to you.

And a final word of warning. If, by any remote chance, you have not yet been infected by the organism, be very careful. Reading the other Theme Thursday Posts on the subject may just leave you open to contamination.




THEME THURSDAY : Take a look at how other people have interpreted this week's theme. And if you don't already take part, why not join in?
HUDDERSFIELD STATION THEN AND NOW :  Take a look at one of Joseph Kaye's finest buildings, the wonderful Huddersfield Railway Station.

39 comments:

  1. They really should warn you when you buy a camera that it may lead to this infection. I caught it!

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  2. Did you see that excellent series, "Buildings That Shaped Britain"? Or, the equally fantastic, "Battlefield Britain", or "Spitfire Aces"?
    I'm with you Alan, the history-bug is certainly infectious and rampant. Once you get snagged, you're HISTORY!

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  3. Well, Alan...a suit is just a suit -- but a good story ... now THAT's a find. ;o)

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  4. A fabulous post, and thanks for sharing a bit of your area history. I agree history is an insideous infection. There is a series here that I miss---History Detectives---virtually the only television programme I miss living sans television...

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  5. Apparently, Alan, there's no known cure. But the good news is that we can live with it.

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  6. Ah I knew this topic would get you going. I'm infected by photography but less so by history these days. Then that's one of the things I love about Europe, the sheer age of the place. Looking forward to your discoveries!

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  7. I'm the same way. In North Carolina there's a rather odd propensity by the state's historical society to place history markers EVERYWHERE. Unfortunately, those markers often seem like afterthoughts and never really provide anything more than a cursory glimpse of what happened on or near that spot.

    I'm torn on the subject... I like that NC is so prolific (much more so than other states) with their attempts to annotate as much as possible, but the states that are - let's just say - a tad more picky tend to provide much more detailed information.

    Ah, well... it's all in The Pursuit!

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  8. Heh-heh. I already have the bug, so I'm safe this Theme Thursday. A post right up my little alley, Alan!

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  9. oh no...i think you need a nice antibiotic. Get well soon.

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  10. funny the little things we can bump into that send us off on a tangent...thanks for tracing it down as well...i knew this one would be right up your alley...getting infected! happy tt!

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  11. I asked question on the previous post, but you didn't answer. Did you see it?

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  12. Hi Keith, I did see it but had yet to reply (I must have been infected by something). As far as I know the Zetland still exists although I have never set foot in the place myself.

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  13. I have an odd strain of the history virus - I only enjoy reading what other people discover for me (hence partly why I love your blog).
    Perhaps I hold back due to my addictive personality - I think a full infection could possibly make me history sooner rather than later. Or maybe it's laziness. Or maybe I just get more from standing in an old building and feeling the vibes...

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  14. Heh, heh...hope the "infection" clears up ere your holiday, wot? It is true tho'( about being bitten )...and that's one grand building, it is!

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  15. Oh, yes..I have the bug and then some! I love your approach to this as something similar was my second option after Mistletoe..LOL!

    I wonder if the son might have been afflicted with consumption and at the spa for the fresh air/rest? It's my understanding that doing so was quite a common "remedy" for TB back then...

    Amazing TT post!

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  16. Only A Short Comment From Me Today As Im on the phone to NHS Direct at this moment in Time...........

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  17. Tony : Too late, you've got it. And if you haven't you will probably catch it in the Union Cross a week on Wednesday.

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  18. brilliant analogy - history is perhaps one 'virus' that I never mind catching and where my defenses are always down.

    thanks for taking the time to transcribe the inscription, I'm sure the suit didn't mind!

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  19. Brilliant, Alan..absolutley brilliant! :)

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  20. Alan,
    What a score on your suit! Interesting piece.

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  21. Love this post because I think history is infectious as well. If I read a book or have a discussion about something I know little about, I have to go and do research on the subject for a while (and leave the dinner uncooked, etc. luckily I don't have a dog!)

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  22. This is amazing because it is so true. I once lived in an old (by American standards) building and I became obsessed (in a good way) with finding the names of all the previous tenants. And this was before the internet. It can make you nuts.

    Happy TT.

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  23. Heh, heh! Once you get started you just can't stop, can you? I've had a lot of fun chasing down the histories of the people under some of the gravestones I've photographed through the years. Unfortunately the record isn't particularly generous for some of the earliest settlers here from the 1600s.

    Good work, Alan!

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  24. Alan,
    I've so much enjoyed your comments from time to time on Willow's blog. I am her uncle in real life. She truly is a blessing. I used to carry her on my shoulders. Anyway, thanks for coming over to Bachelor at Wellington. I have recently married so I'm no more the bachelor but still use the handle, so to speak. What an interesting bit of history you have ran into on your way to pick up that suit at a bargain price. Thanks for your post on history. Happiest of Holidays to you and yours. I am adding you as a blogger I follow!
    The Bach

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  25. Alan this was really wonderful! Hope you get out with that dog wearing that great new suit!

    Cheers!

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  26. Hi Allen I popped over from Otin's blog because I loved your comment!
    This is a great post, I love the way mix history and science. I look forward to reading more :)

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  27. Great take. But historically, you always do well. Heh... :)

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  28. Hmmmm, Alan, I should like to see the brown striped suit! Did not know you were a snappy dresser!

    I enjoyed your local history too...it is an endless job...tracking down the details or filling in the gaps.

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  29. Alan, you have really outdone yourself here again! "Bloody"brilliant! I am infected right along with you. I LOVED reading this post and your wrap up about the suit not worn, dog not fed was fantastic eith such dry sharp wit. Boy, wish i could go see ny niece at York adn then figure out where you are for a pint with you or tea perhaps for me!

    "History will have me and history will have you." --What a sobering thought that we will all be relics of it one day. I do hope ours are far far off and you have many more years to add to the wonder of the blog world.

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  30. Bachelor : As you follow me, I follow you.

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  31. Jill : I will arrange a photograph of the new suit.
    ..mmm... : I am just a short train ride away from York so anytime you are over ..

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  32. Wonderful history, as always--will look forward to any updates you may discover!

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  33. Huddersfield is history.

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  34. Isn't it funny how we sometimes begin with one goal and find something else wonderful along the way? I hope the dog eventually got walked.

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  35. Is there no innoculation? Seems to be quite viral. Wonderful analogy, Alan. Sometimes one small stone can unlock an entire universe.

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  36. That's really cool. So often my imagination is captured and held by such things...

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  37. I love finding things like that and it always does just what you said "infects me". Thank you for sharing and please do keep blogging about it!

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  38. Wonderful post but I was infected even before I read it.
    Happy TT

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  39. Sounds a little odd, I suppose, but there's nothing more interesting than walking through one of the old cemeteries reading the tombstones. My husband and I did that a lot when I was researching my family background. You see the names and dates and the bits of inscription and can't help but wonder about the person's life and the history they lived. Happy TT!

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