Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Constantly Updating Amy


This photograph of Amy and Wilf Sykes must have been taken in the mid 1930s. Amy Beanland was born in August 1904 in Keighley, Yorkshire, the eldest daughter of Albert and Kate Beanland (my mother Gladys was Amy's younger sister). Wilf was born in the Yorkshire town of Pontefract, the son of a local policeman. His family later moved to Bradford and Wilf trained to become a wool-sorter and easily found work in what was then the wool capital of the world. Amy, the daughter of a mill mechanic, also worked in the mill and met and - in 1929 - married Wilf and settled down to a settled life in a Bradford suburb.

​In 1939 (according to the 1939 Register) they were living at 1, Yarwood Grove in Great Horton, Bradford in a smart new semi. It was a house I was familiar with as we would often visit it for family parties when I was a young boy. The settled nature of their future came apart in 1963 when Wilf - still in his 50s - died. It would be easy to imagine that Amy would settle into the life of a lonely widow, but she would have none of it - she was to marry twice more before eventually passing away aged 98 in 2001. 

In tracing the long and romantically active life of Amy through the various public records, what I was really surprised to discover was how that 1939 Register was continuously updated, decades after it had been first introduced to organise wartime ration-books and conscription. Careful handwritten amendments have been added to the original records to update her details following her marriage to Leslie Hanby in 1969 and Joseph Barker in 1974.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Streets Ahead Of Its Time


Street photography is all the rage at the moment. As a photographic genre it is usually said to date from the introduction of miniature 35mm cameras in the 1930s. But this old print - which appeared in a mixed batch of old photographs bought an eBay - dates from at least a decade earlier. It really is a fine example: whatever the camera, it has managed to capture the moment in time with both style and substance. That look between the two girls is worth a short novella, that busy background could give rise to a short thesis on social history.

Restoring Fixby To Its Rightful Place In The World


I live in Fixby, which today is in Huddersfield. According to Wikipedia, "Fixby is traditionally part of Huddersfield". This is not the case at all - the township of Fixby was traditionally part of Halifax. It was only transferred to Huddersfield (and Kirklees) when the M62 motorway was built and someone decided that the motorway would henceforth be the division between the two boroughs. One can only assume that, at the same time, they dug up this ancient dividing stone and shipped it off to retirement in a park in West Vale. I plan to kidnap the old stone and replace it in its original position and thus return Fixby to its rightful place in the world. Has anyone got a chisel I can borrow?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Remembering Doncaster Market Place


This is a scan of an old picture postcard which must date from the first decade of the twentieth century. I worked in Doncaster for almost twenty years in the 1980s and 90s, and this scene of the busy market place was still recognisable then. There was a pub, just on the left, I remember well although its name has long faded into obscurity. Perhaps I need to revisit the town.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Gone Fishing


For a number of years now I have regularly gathered together all my various blog posts and published them every so often in book form. The main reason for this is to create an archive of my words and images so that when Blogger or Wordpress or Facebook eventually curls up and expires, I still have a physical record of what I have been doing for the last twelve years or so. I suspect that words and pictures printed on good old fashioned paper have a better chance of surviving the post-digital apocalypse than anything else. As images have become more important to me over the years, the physical format of the books has grown accordingly - and the last few have weighed in at a coffee table hugging 10 by 8 inches.

I also like to occasionally annoy relatives and friends by giving them a copy of my latest book at birthdays and Christmas - it represents a gift on a similar level of both style and uselessness to a knitted toilet roll cover. If you have a relative or friend who has annoyed you recently, you may want to gift them a copy of my latest magnum opus - aptly entitled "Fishing In The Pond Of Inconsequence". It is available from Amazon in most countries and good bookshops gone bad. To find it on Amazon simply enter the search term "Alan Burnett Inconsequence" - which quite neatly sums everything up.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Between A Rock And A Hard Place


Unknown Group (1930s)
A group pose for a picture - their identity and the location has long since faded into obscurity. Wherever they are, they are caught between a rock and a hard place, with the sun shining down

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Striding Into Sherman's Studio


Unknown Soldier : Studio Of George Sherman, Great Yarmouth (1880s/90s)
He stands so upright, you can almost imagine him marching into the Pier Studios in Great Yarmouth. Photograph taken, he marches out again - striding towards his future.



Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The Last Chara To Dewsbury


Whenever you look at an old photograph of a familiar scene you become aware of content; the very scale and detail of what is going on. This is Brighouse in the early 1920s: there are shops, there are men waiting for the Black Bull to open and there is a charabanc waiting to trundle you off to Dewsbury Market (fare 2/- return). It is busy, it is lived in, it is a cobbled metropolis.

The Black Bull is still there but now it is flanked by some concrete conveniences and a Wilko wall. And the last "chara" for Dewsbury left a long time ago.


Dear Elsie, Excuse me not writing to before now. I will send you a letter later but with the card you will see I have not forgotten you. I got your letter and card was very nice and thank very much. Well my Dear friend how are you keeping I hope you are well. I am very well myself. Do excuse me Elsie Dear not writing before now. I have been thinking about you Elsie Dear all the same. Well Dear I will stop. With love I remain your loving friend, Edith xxxxxx

Elsie Shuker of Church Street, St Georges in Shropshire was 28 years old when she received this postcard from her friend Edith in Brighouse. Perhaps they knew each other from being in domestic service together? In the 1939 Register, Elsie Shuker - who was then 44 years old - is simply listed as "Daily Girl, Domestic Duties".