This is an old Cabinet Card of an unknown soldier. How it came into my possession, I do not know. But look at the parting in his hair: as straight as a die, as pronounced as a Flanders trench.
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week shows two railway workers in Finland playing chess during a break from work. That stance of studied concentration is matched perfectly by my picture which features a chess game between my father and myself. The photograph must have been taken by my brother, Roger, and it dates from around 1965 when we were on a family holiday in Scotland.
The image - which is a scan of an old 35mm colour slide - is a perfect example of how old photographs can let loose a flight of memories. That red striped Dennis-the-Menace shirt, I can remember with such clarity I am almost tempted to check to see if it is still in my wardrobe. Those boots which have been set out to dry in the sun, just before (or possibly just after) they were cleaned and "dubbined" to waterproof the leather. They were used to climb the mountains that can be seen in the background which, I believe, were on the banks of Kinlochleven in Scotland. The car and the tartan travel blanket open up another box full of memories: that shade of pale blue, the shine of the chrome bumpers, the wing mirrors sticking out like antlers. My mother, Gladys, pinny-wrapped, watching with a degree of proprietorial interest.
I dare say that I can enlarge the image and review the state of the game and decide whether or not I was in a winning position. That, however, would take my attention away from the image itself: a random image, but one dripping with memories.
Monday, April 16, 2018
I have always found old photographs to be the best stimulus for rekindling memories. This is a photograph of my grandfather, Albert Beanland (1875-1948) which must have been taken in the 1930s or 1940s when he was living along with his wife, Catherine, in Bradford. Albert died in the same year I was born, so I never got to know him - but that smile, those features, that solid Yorkshire stance is very familiar to me.
Whilst reviewing the various on-line records about Albert, I took a look at his entry in the 1939 Register - the special register which was taken just before the outbreak of World War II. By then he was 64 years old and of little interest as far as military conscription was concerned, but he was still working as a textile mechanic and living at 12, Lawrence Street, Princeville, Bradford.
I was vaguely aware that my mother grew up in the Princeville area of Bradford, and this meant that my grandfather had probably spent the last thirty or so years of his life in the same house in Lawrence Street - and that was probably the house that can be seen in the photograph above.
I managed to find Lawrence Street on an old OS map of Bradford which dates from about the time he moved there from his home town of Keighley. And it was then, that I started to realise that maps can be just as good a stimulus to memories as old photographs. To the best of my knowledge, I have never been to Princeville, but looking at the old map was like a conducted tour of names and places that were handed down to me by generations long gone. Horton Dye Works, Legrams Mill, Bradford Beck, Lidget Green : all are names that resonate. My mother spoke this language as did that generation of my Bradford family. It's the language of the mill and the stone terraced house.
Friday, April 13, 2018
It is a sure sign of age when you can reach for one of your own old photographs to respond to a Sepia Saturday prompt. Nevertheless, how better to match a 1930s picture of a barrow full of old fish than a 1980s picture of a box full of old fish. My picture is one of a sequence of photographs I took in the early to mid 1980s in Grimsby Fish Docks, just at the time when activity in the docks was winding down. At one time Grimsby Docks was the main fishing port in the country, employing hundreds of workers and landing over 20% of all fish caught in the UK. Over the last fifty years activity in the docks has dwindled and the docks have become an industrial wasteland, but plans are now being considered for the redevelopment of the site.
To see more Sepia Saturday posts, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
It seems impossible to watch daytime TV at the moment without being continuously assailed by elderly actors and celebrities reminding you that you need to take care of those "final expenses". Whilst this obsession with paying a few quid a week to pay for your own funeral is not new, it does seem to have skipped a few generations (Message to The Lad: when "my time comes" you can pick up the bill for the "lovely send-off", it's the least you can do to pay back all those years of spending money I forked out for you). The modern approach to paying for your own funeral is not half as entertaining as the one favoured by the working class in nineteenth century Britain. That was the great age of Friendly and Burial societies, where you paid the equivalent of a few quid into a fund and got in return, not just a decent send-off, but a good time as well, whilst you were still around to enjoy it.
Browsing through an old copy of The Leeds Times the other day (as one does), I came across this announcement concerning the activities of local Friendly and Burial Societies. Organisations such as the Honourable Order Of The Peaceful Dove and the Ancient Order Of Druids saw no contradiction between describing themselves as "Secret Orders" and advertising their activities in the columns of the local newspaper. Once you had paid your "subs" into the kitty, you not only got a good send off and a few pound for you surviving relatives, you also got regular dinners, useful conversation, and - given that meetings were always held in pubs - a goodly amount of ale as well.
However good their "lifetime payment guarantees" and the like are, I can't imagine that many pensioners these days, after paying their weekly subscription, go home "highly pleased with a well spent day".
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
I was watching an old episode of Time Team the other day and they were going on about how the ancients used to try and build temples and the like on top of hills. The chapel-buildings of West Yorkshire were the same : show them a half-decent hill and they would stick a chapel on it. I spotted this view of the one in Blackley the other day whilst walking the dog.
Monday, April 09, 2018
This trio of musicians appears on the front of a vintage post card which was sent to a Mr E A Hopkins in Cardiff in October 1913. The message on the reverse is as follows:-Lydney, 18/10/13
Dearest, These are poor cards. The boy at the back is the cleverest, he plays cello alright. Best love, Mame xxxxxx
Lydney is a small town in Gloucestershire near the Forest of Dean, and Mame's "dearest" lived some 50 miles away in Cardiff.
The Singer Trio - who were also known as "The Musical Boy Scouts" - toured the variety halls and music halls of Britain in the early part of the twentieth century. In an advert in the variety newspaper "The Era" in November 1913, they described themselves as follows in an advert for tour dates:
"SINGER TRIO : Wonderful musicians. 15 stringed instruments (not toys) played (not played with). Great success everywhere. Wanted. Known at liberty Oct 17, 24.
|NORTHAMPTON DAILY ECHO 21 December 1914|
The following year brought the outbreak of the First World War, but the Singer Trio were still touring the theatres, although now they were having to share the billing with moving picture shows about the horrors of war - "a beautifully coloured production"!
|MANSFIELD REPORTER AND SUTTON TIMES 11 September 1914|
There are frequent mentions of the Trio in the stage and variety press until September 1915, after which all mention of them ceases. One can only assume that the "musical boy scouts" were eventually drawn into that most tragic of twentieth century performances - the Great War.
Wednesday, April 04, 2018
I would guess that this little Carte de Visite from the studio of W H Martin of Prestwich, Lancashire is Edwardian rather than Victorian. I know nothing about the subject of the photograph other than he seems a bright young fellow with a rather distinctive horseshoe pattern necktie. I don't know much more about W H Martin, other than I suspect it was William H Martin who was born in Prestwich in 1878. In a description of nineteenth and twentieth century Prestwich published by Bury Metropolitan Council, Martin's photographic studios are described as follows:
"The studio on the corner of Hacking Street and advertised as "Artist and Military Photographer ... under the distinguished Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales"
The part about royal patronage sounds very grand, but every small town photographer in the land was claiming similar associations around the turn of the century. With the best will in the world, I cannot see the King and the Prince of Wales getting a tram up to Prestwich in order to have their likeness captured by Willie Martin.
Tuesday, April 03, 2018
I was in Manchester last week with a group of friends - the famous Old Gits Luncheon Club - and we were walking along the Rochdale Canal en-route to a splendid public house called The Briton's Protection, when I spotted two buildings, separated by a few hundred yards and a few hundred years in economic history. My first reaction was to praise the old and condemn the new, but on mature old git reflection I shall admire both. Manchester has changed, but the new Manchester is just as vibrant, striking and picturesque as the old; and with a shiny glass surface.
Friday, March 23, 2018
Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features a magnificent photograph of Florence Timms on her wedding day in 1928. I know nothing of Florence other than that she was the niece of the Vancouver printer and photographer Philip Timms (1874-1973).
I know even less about my match image other than it was taken in Bradford and it features a distant relative. Like Miss Timms, however, she clings on to her bouquet as though it was a lifebelt and she occupies the same historical corridor - somewhere between the first and second world war.
I have two copies of the photograph, but the only clue I have about the identity is that pencilled on the reverse of one of the copies is the information "Harry's cousin". Whoever she is, she looks happy enough: which is more than can be said for Miss Timms. As far as she is concerned, she has not been remembered for being a happy bride, but she surely will be remembered as being the subject of a stunning photograph.
Other Sepia Saturday contributions can be found by going to the Sepia Saturday Blog and following the links