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.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Albion And Bailey And A Couple Of Questions


This is a scan of an old negative of mine which gives rise to a couple of questions. I am not sure about the date - there is a train in the image, but trains change so slowly in these parts, it could be anytime during the last sixty years. You can make out the old Riding Hall Carpet Mill in the background, and that, I think, was demolished sometime around 1980. The other question relates to the two main buildings you can see in the picture: both at the time were factories for John Mackintosh & Sons. One was called Bailey Hall and the other was Albion Mills, but I can't remember which was which. If my brother is reading this far away on his sunny Caribbean island, he might be able to tell me, as he worked there fifty or more years ago.


Friday, November 22, 2019

Sepia Saturday 497 : You See What I Mean


The delightful thing about Sepia Saturday prompts is that they spark visual links that defy language. I cannot really explain in words why this weeks prompt image sent me off in search of a particular photograph of my mother, Gladys Burnett, but it did. It may be something about the  shape of the lips, quite possibly it is the chin: but with images, explanations are unnecessary. Quite literally, you can see what I mean.

In fact, it is not a photograph in its own right but a detail from a larger photograph that features Gladys Beanland (as she then was) and her older sister Amy. Gladys was born in 1911 and I suspect that she was about eight or nine when this photograph was taken, which dates it as about 1919 or 1920.


Can I see my mother - the Gladys of some thirty years later - in this photograph? It's difficult to say. It's not the face, certainly it isn't the hair. But there may be something about the shape of the lips and the chin. I can see what I mean.




This is a Sepia Saturday post. To see other posts in response to this weeks prompt, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.




Tuesday, November 19, 2019

John Shaw And The Photographic Bandwagon


This rather stern looking lady was captured by the Heckmondwike studio of John S Shaw. John Shaw was born near Halifax in 1815, and for most of his working life was a farmer in Staffordshire. Only when he was in his sixties to he return to his native West Yorkshire to climb aboard the commercial band-wagon which was studio photography. The last two decades of the nineteenth century was the great age of the popular studio portrait. Production techniques meant that studio portraits were no longer the preserve of the wealthy, and the new age of home photography had not yet arrived. Every town and village needed its photographic studio, and a wide range of men - and a few notable women - were attracted into the profession. They were the computer repair shops, mobile phone case sellers, and Turkish barbers of their day. Unlike all such recent trends, however, they left a lasting legacy which still can be appreciated over one hundred years later.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Postcards From Home : Old Market, Halifax


This 1904 postcard shows a view that will still be familiar to any Halifax resident: the grand facade of the Old Market Arcade, looking towards Market Street and the Woolshops area.  The buildings at the bottom of Old Market have changed since this photograph was taken - and are changing again - but the gloroious building that dominates this scene is still just as magnificent today as it was at the beginning of the last century. The shop at the bottom of Old Market was that of Eagland Bray & Son, grocer and provisioner. Eagland Bray established the firm sixty years before this photograph was taken, and during his life he was a prominent town councillor and pillar of the Wesleyan church. The shop on the top corner of Old Market was that of Gibson Dixon, chemist, druggist, and mineral water manufacturer. We should never take for granted the pleasure and delight of being able to walk by, and shop in,  these same magnificent buildings today.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Our Naffie


This is a picture from an album of photographs that were largely taken in India in the 1930s. The album belonged to my wife's uncle, Jim Carthew, an army sergeant who saw service in India and Afghanistan. This particular photograph has the caption "Our Naffie", which, I assume, is the name given to the local who provided tea for the soldiers - a play on the acronym NAAFI (The Navy Army, and Air Force Institute). The photograph is less than ninety years old, but it is a photograph of a very different world.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Postcards From Home : Across North Bridge


A vintage postcard of North Bridge, in Halifax, back in the days when it was the main route out of town to the north. Back then, the buildings hugged the side of the road at both ends of the bridge, and it did not have to live under the concrete shadow of the Burdock Way overpass. People streamed over the bridge, as did trams and horses and carts, on their way to Boothtown, Northowram, Southowram and beyond. The building on the right of the picture is the old Grand Theatre, now sadly gone, but when I started crossing the bridge on a daily basis in the late 1950s, it was still just about there. The buildings on the left still survive, but look lost and a little lonely these days. Practically all of what you can see on the far side of the bridge, was swept away in the construction of Burdock Way and its associated roads and roundabout some fifty years ago. I can just about remember the area as a patchwork of shops, mills, pubs and streets of terraced houses.


This particular postcard was posted in 1913, although the photograph probably dates from ten years earlier. The card was sent to Alice and Edith Nutter from their friend Gladys, and is full for the inconsequential chatter that is now the stuff of text messages. Undoubtedly, text messages are cheaper and quicker to reach their destination. But who will look at a text message in one hundred years time and see a picture of Halifax that no longer exists?


Friday, November 08, 2019

The Shaw Syke Redemption



The final two negatives from a 35mm strip shot almost forty years ago show what was left then - and I suspect what still exists now - of the very first Halifax Station. Built  at Shaw Syke in 1844 as the terminus for a branch of the Manchester and Leeds Railway, it survived less than ten years before being replaced by the new station a few hundred yards to the north east.


Thursday, November 07, 2019

Two Gentlemen Of Brighouse



If Shakespeare had been around in the days of Brexit, he might have written a play called Two Gentlemen Of Brighouse, in which two friends, Herbert and Wilfred, travelled to Bradford in pursuit of the same girl, Ethel. This lovely little Victorian photo from the studio of the Brighouse photographer, Martin Manley, would have made a perfect illustration for such a play.

The career of Martin Manley traces the rise and fall of the Victorian studio photography craze. Born in Brighouse in 1850, he was the son of a family of moderate means who owned land and houses in the Bonegate area of the town. In the 1871 census, he is listed as "living from income derived from homes and land", but by 1881 he is listed as being a photographer. This little Carte de Visite must date from the 1880s or 1890s and he is now listing himself as an "Artist in Photography, Miniature and Portrait Painter Etc". By the time of the 1901 census the boom years for Victorian studio photographers are beginning to fade, and Manley is now listed as an "optician and photographer", and ten years later all reference to photography are dropped.

Irrespective of his career path, Martin Manley appears to have remained a keen photographer all his life. He was one of the founder members of the Brighouse Photographic Society, and as early as 1874 there are newspaper reports of him exhibiting his photographs of members of the Royal Family and "famous views of London" at local gatherings.



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. T...