Monday, December 30, 2019

Birthday Greetings From Shrogg's Park

What better way to end the year than with this fine old picture postcard of Shrogg's Park in Halifax. I had assumed that the two prominent spires in the background were the Town Hall and Square Church, but now I am not too sure.


In order to confirm the identity of the spires, I took a walk the other day through Shroggs Park and tried to discover the location of the original photograph, and, more importantly, the line of sight. The layout of the park has changed and the circular pond appears to have long gone, and, as always, the trees now crowd-out the scene. The best I could come up with was the photograph below, but the Town Hall and Square Church are not at all visible; although you can just make out the spire of All Soul's Church on the horizon. That would be a more appropriate landmark, as both the park and All Soul's Church were built by Colonel Edward Ackroyd.


My postcard was sent in 1904, back in the days when addresses were short and to the point. It is from Addie to Mary Drake, and is an early twentieth century equivalent to those Facebook messages you get every time it is someone's birthday.

"Dear Mary, Wishing you many happy returns of the day, if not too late, with love to all, Addie"


One is forced to ask: "How many Facebook birthday greetings will be remembered, recorded and reprinted 115 years after the were sent?"


Friday, December 20, 2019

Christmas Greetings To All




For my News From Nowhere Christmas Card this year, I have chosen a vintage postcard of a snow-covered Halifax Parish Church, which forms part of my Postcards From Home series. I am having some difficulty in pinning down the precise date of the photograph - the postcard had not been used, which removes one means of dating it - but from the style of the card, I would guess sometime in the 1920s or 1930s.

Work on the Church of St John The Baptist in Halifax was started as early as the 12th century and largely completed by 1438. In 2009 it was made one of the three Minster Churches of West Yorkshire (the others being Dewsbury and Leeds).


At some stage, somebody made the brave decision not to clean up the stone work on the church; and so, even today, in a very physical way, the church tells the story of the hard work and industry that has always been a part of life in the parish.

All that remains is for me to wish everyone a Very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Letters Patent For Artistic Improvements



According to the scrawled date on the reverse of this Victorian Cabinet Card, it was taken somewhere around the 11th November 1889. The clothing and the photographic style fits well with this date, and we know that the studio - Brown, Barnes & Bell of Liverpool and London - were active at the time.

​The reverse of the card has all the usual flourish of Victorian studio portraits, including an intriguing claim that the studio possessed "Letters patent for artistic improvements"


If only Mssrs Brown, Barnes or Bell had been lucky enough to be around 130 years later, they would have been able to take advantage of the multitude of mobile apps that can perform endless degrees of artistic improvement in this day and age. I conducted a small experiment on their behalf, which, I hope, the original sitter would have been pleased with. Let's say it is the first portrait from the studio of Brown, Barnes, Bell & Burnett.


Saturday, December 07, 2019

A Day Out In Lincoln

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week shows a man in a shop. I went through my various collections of old photographs in search of something to match a shopping theme, and the best I could come up with was an old photograph of mine of a newspaper seller in Lincoln. In these digital days, it is difficult to find actual newspaper sellers any more. And in an age dominated by on-line shopping, how long will it be before the same will be said about other types of shop?



On a day out in Lincoln, camera in hand, sometime in the mid 1980s. The memorable shot from this strip of three negatives, is the one of the newspaper seller. Do such wooden huts on wheels still exist? When I still buy newspapers, and I have to confess that is only occasionally, they are in digital form and I have them delivered to my computer. Such smart apps have no place for little old men in flat caps - mores the pity.


For other Sepia Saturday posts go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Brighouse Basin Street Blues


During a regular scanning session of my old negatives, I came across this 35mm negative from the late 1960s - and I suspected that it had been taken in Brighouse Canal Basin. In order to confirm my suspicions, I took a walk there this morning and took a series of shots of the canal basin fifty years on. Everything has changed but the basic shape and structure of the canal and locks. So much of what has happened over the last fifty years can be seen in the changes between these two photographs: the gas works and mill chimneys are gone, the pleasure craft moorings and waterside bar restaurants have arrived.




Whilst walking around the moorings I was reminded of an incident that occurred there some 55 years ago. My brother had a canal barge that was moored in the canal basin, and my father and I were visiting him one evening. His was the only boat in the basin - the scene was just as bleak and empty as in that old negative of mine. All of a sudden we heard an almighty splash, and as we emerged from his boat we saw a car slowly sinking below the dark waters of the canal. Assuming there must have been a driver in the car, my brother was on the point of diving into the water to see if he could rescue anyone, when my father - a Yorkshireman of the old school - warned him that by doing so he would ruin a perfectly good pair of trousers! Our debate was curtailed by the sight of the driver emerging from below the surface of the water, and we managed to drag him out of the canal from the comparative safety of the towpath, without risking our health and our trousers. 

The water is much cleaner these days and there wasn't a sinking car nor a suicidal driver to be seen.

Boating At Brookfoot

This picture postcard of Brookfoot, just outside Brighouse, must date from the very early years of the twentieth century. It was never u...