Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A Shaw Lane Triptych


In reviewing my old negatives, it appears as if I spent a large part of my youth walking up and down Shaw Lane in Halifax. Here is a triptych of views from a strip of negatives shot in the 1970s. I am particularly fond of that final image - it sums up so much about the Halifax of my youth.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Changing Times In Elland


In some ways the centre of Elland has changed little since this photograph was taken 100 years ago, whilst in other ways it has changed so very much. The Saville Arms is still open, and still dispensing beer, but the bank opposite has stopped dispensing cash and many of the shops stand empty. The clock has gone and so have the cobbles, but the scene is still instantly recognisable.


The card was posted in Lincolnshire and it contains a somewhat uncertain, and rather formal, message :-

Dear Sister, We are coming either Saturday next or Monday next but not sure which, A Ingall.

Hopefully Mrs Ingall managed to get to see her sister in Sutton-On-Sea. Hopefully the people of Elland will get to see commerce thriving again in these buildings in due course.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sepia Saturday 483 : Young Girl With A Basket


This is a photograph of a young girl carrying a basket. It is my attempt to match this week's Sepia Saturday prompt image - which is a photograph of a young girl carrying a basket. The prompt photograph dates from the early years of the twentieth century, and my little photograph is of a similar vintage. We know that the prompt image was taken somewhere in Mexico, and with a similar degree of certainty, we know my photograph was taken in Yorkshire.

I am not sure exactly who the girl in my photograph is, but if it was possible to extract DNA from a photograph, I would think there is a good chance you could match it with mine. It is a tiny photograph - about one inch square - that was stuck in the back of the postcard album kept by my mother's uncle, Fowler Beanland. It might be my mother or her sister Amy, or it might be an earlier generation of Beanland girls. When I ask my Lightroom facial recognition for suggestions, it suggests my niece, which is obviously inaccurate in terms of date, but accurate in terms of DNA.

Whoever it turns out to be, it is a charming little photo and a rather good Sepia Saturday match. 

To see other Sepia Saturday matches, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.



Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Age Of The Smile

Photograph of unknown family - 1920s/30s

Smiles - smiles on photos, at least - were a twentieth century invention: smiles on the faces of the subjects of Victorian photographic portraits are as rare as Trumpian truths. The reason was partly that Victorian cameras could only cope with fixed expressions - but it was also partly that they tended to be a miserable lot. By the 1920s and 1930s, people were more relaxed, and smiles began to appear, and this added a welcome layer of humanity to photographs. Once you achieved the technological ability to instantly see - and digitally enhance - your photographic image, things started to become unreal again, with blemishes banished and pouts propelled to prominence. For a few decades, however, photographic smiles reflected something like real joy and honest emotion. It was the age of the smile.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Case Of Municipal Pride


Back in the early twentieth century, when picture postcards were all the rage, the subjects reflected what people saw as important, what they were proud of, what - to them - represented their home towns and villages. There were, of course,  many pictures of celebrity music hall stars and vacuous views of pretty nothingness; but there were also grand public buildings - town halls, churches, and museums. There was a municipal pride that seems to have sadly evaporated as the twentieth century gave way to the twenty-first.


So if you were writing to a Belgium beauty from Edwardian Halifax, what better image to send her than one of the finely proportioned Bankfield Museum. The subtext doesn't seem to say, "look at the fine homes the rich and famous can live in", but, "look at what we can create together when we are proud of our collective history".

Monday, August 12, 2019

Monochrome Valley : Finding Myself In Northowram

Howes Lane Looking Towards Northowram : Alan Burnett (c1970)
I grew up in the village of Northowram, a few miles north of Halifax, and I must have taken this photograph of the top end of the village about forty years ago. It shows the village, looking east from Howes Lane. What caught my eye when I scanned the negative a few days ago was the mill chimney in the very centre of the image, because I couldn't recall either the mill or its imposing chimney in the centre of the village. 

I solved the mystery when I eventually recognised the house I grew up in and remembered that there was a tall chimney to the side of the old Crown Brewery building on Bradford Road, where the tannery used to be. The brewery is long gone along with its various buildings and chimneys, and therefore it was difficult to confirm that this was the chimney in question. I went on-line to try and find information about a mill and its associated chimney, but the only two I could find mention of were well out of the village centre. I eventually found confirmation when a Google search threw up an old photograph of the brewery building with clear evidence of a large chimney next to it. Clearly my memory of the village of my youth is beginning to fade with age - and this was confirmed when I discovered that the old photograph that confirmed the presence of a chimney was one of my own!

Friday, August 09, 2019

Having Fun At Hall End


It took me a few moments to fit the scene depicted in this 1908 postcard of Hall End, Halifax, into my late twentieth century perceptions of the town. "Hall End" was not a description I was immediately familiar with, nor were the buildings in the centre of the scene. The rather grand building which is centre-left in this view is so typically Halifax, however, it didn't take me too long to recognise the point at which Silver Street and Crown Street converge. The grand building was the home of the Halifax Commercial Banking Company - it later became Lloyds Bank - and today it is known as "The Old Bank" and it is occupied by a variety of retail and commercial ventures. 

Those buildings in the centre - Nicholson's the glovers, and Lonsdales, the piano seller - were eventually demolished in the 1920s and replaced by another grandiose bank building which was built for the National Provincial Bank, and is now the home,e of the NatWest. The building on the right is still there today, whilst the one on the left was demolished in the late twentieth century to make way for a couple of concrete boxes, as part of a scheme to punish the town for being too architecturally interesting.


The card was sent by Amy and Phyllis to their friend, the splendidly-named Edith Don Leo (surely there is a genealogical tale behind that name well worth researching!). The message reads as follows:- 

Dear Edith,
We were pleased to receive your P.C. We are all well and hope you are the same. On Good Friday our shop will be closed after ten A.M. so if the weather is nice we may pay you a visit, that is if you will be at home. I will have some fun with you if we come. 
Love from Amy & Phyllis.

I hope they managed to get to Batley to see Edith. I hope the weather was nice on that Good Friday and I hope they all had lots of fun. I certainly had fun taking a trip around Hall End one hundred and ten years later.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Monochrome Valley : Farewell To Rhodes Street

According to my records - which are about as accurate as a Prime Minister's promise - I took this photograph of Rhodes Street, Halifax in 1973. To me that sounds like only yesterday, but I suppose it is history. It is the year that I moved to London, and the walk down Gibbet Street might have been part of some farewell tour of the town of my youth. It would be twenty years before I moved back to the area - and a lot changed in that time.


Monday, August 05, 2019

A Pint At The Shibden Mill Inn

POSTCARDS FROM HOME : Shibden Mill Inn & Lake


There are few pleasanter spots to enjoy a pint of beer on a summers' evening than the Shibden Mill Inn, and that has been the case for the best part of two hundred years. This particular postcard dates from the early part of the twentieth century (the postmark is, I think, 1910) and shows the Inn complete with a boating lake. This lake was the old mill dam which had been used to power the mill wheel of the centuries-old corn mill. The old mill had closed during the nineteenth century and a beer house established in the millers' house. The dam-cum-boating lake was eventually drained in the early twentieth century, not too long after this photograph was taken.


The card was sent by Clara to her friend Lizzie Smith in Blackpool. It was posted in Queensbury in what looks like 1910. The message reads as follows:-

Dear Lizzie, Many thanks for the P.C. Glad you have thought of me. Weather here is beastly. Just had a card from Vi. I almost wish I had gone with you as there seems to be scarcely anyone left in Queensbury. Love to your Annie. Hoping to see you soon. With love from Clara.

Even though it was written over 100 years ago, the feelings expressed are familiar to us all. It is the middle of summer and all your friends have gone to the seaside on holiday. You are left back in Queensbury and the weather has turned beastly. There is no alternative Clara - get yourself down to the Shibden Mill Inn and enjoy a good pint.


Thursday, August 01, 2019

A Halifax Roof


I'm not sure exactly where or when I took this photo, but - this is a Halifax roof. Unconventional, different, with a twisted sense of humour. Well worn, hard worked - but as strong as a stone quarry.