Sunday, March 22, 2020

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 used or sent through the post and therefore we don't have a postmark to help us date it. Surprisingly enough, little has changed over the 120 years since the scene was first captured, although many more houses cling to the top of the hillside on the right of the picture.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Five Wheels Are Better Than Six (A Sepia Saturday Post)


Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week pre-dates social distancing by some 95 years - those cyclists are far too close together for comfort. My first submission also breaks the current rules for social distancing: which is inevitable when you are dealing with a tandem. The photograph features my mother and father: Albert and Gladys Burnett, and it must have been taken in the early 1960s. Albert and Gladys had been seasoned tandem riders in the 1930s, but the machine they are riding in this photograph belonged to my brother Roger. The picture was taken in the back garden of their house in Northowram.

My second submission - this is a tandem of a Sepia Saturday post - goes from two wheels to three: and features my brother Roger on a tricycle. It must have been taken fifteen or so years before the first one: that is clearly the drive at Albert and Gladys's house in Bradford in the photograph.


Whilst the theme image features three people on six wheels, my two submissions, in total, feature three people on five wheels, which probably means I win a prize!

To see more Sepia Saturday posts go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Slate-Grey In Brighouse


These are strange times: there seems so much to do in the world and yet we are assured that our best contribution is to stay at home. So what else is there to do other than to turn to the past and set out on a virtual voyage of exploration. By walking in the footsteps I took 55 years ago, I can still safely wander down crowded streets and see sights that are no longer visible. The following six photographs come from a strip of 35mm negatives I shot sometime in the mid to late 1960s around the town of Brighouse in West Yorkshire. I have featured each of these shots on the Brighouse History Facebook Group, and members have helped me identify the exact location I must have used. Some of the buildings are still there, some have substantially changed, some have gone altogether. Looking at these photographs, there is a greyness about the town that seems to fit with the time they were taken. I like to think that Brighouse is a much more vibrant and colourful place these days.
Looking towards Brighouse from the west; taken from Elland Road.
A similar shot with the camera rotated slightly.
A busy Commercial Street in the centre of town
The old recreation ground at Wellholme Park, Brighouse
Looking down on Brighouse from the north, with St James Church on the right
The mill complex at Bailiff Bridge, to the north of Brighouse

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Risk Assessment

Bradley Woods, Huddersfield 17 March 2020

What a strange world we live in at the moment: in semi-isolation, measuring distances with our eyes, assessing risk with every move. A walk in the woods provides a degree of relief, but even there we are nervous of the chance touch of a stray branch.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A Direct Line To Halifax

This is an old picture postcard featuring Crown Street in Halifax at the beginning of the twentieth century. Although it dates from an age of horse carriages and gas lights, it is a scene which will be familiar to all those who know the town. Most of the buildings featured in the view are still there; and although the striped awnings and crowded shop windows may have been replaced by neon lights and plastic signs, the shape of the architecture is unchanged. 


The card was posted in July 1904, at the height of the great postcard collecting craze of the early twentieth century. The message is a direct ancestor of so many text messages of 100 years or more later : "I am at Halifax. I will write again Tuesday night. From Ernest". The message is of little interest to us today, but the image it was scrawled on the back of,  provides us with a direct line to our past.


Monday, March 09, 2020

A Circuitous Route To Huddersfield


I have just acquired this lovely old vintage postcard of Stump Cross, near Halifax. It is a view I am well familiar with, based on a thousand bus journeys home - although those journeys would have been fifty years after this photograph was taken in the early years of the twentieth century. When I regularly travelled this road in the 1960s, most of the buildings featured in this postcard were unchanged, although the tram lines had long gone.


The postcard was sent by "Else" to her friend Gwen Payne who lived in Lincolnshire. The message is brief: "Dear G, Many thanks for letter this morning, will write you one very soon. This is the way to Huddersfield. Heaps of love, Yours Else". The card was postmarked Sowerby Bridge, which suggests that if Else was going from there to Huddersfield, she would be taking a somewhat circuitous route if she travelled via Stump Cross!


Friday, February 14, 2020

All That Is Given Is The Moment


A classic Picture From Nowhere : I know not who, where or when. Three carefully posed men, three carefully composed faces. You can write their past or invent their future. All that is given is the moment.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Great Questions Of Our Time No. 376 & 377


I know what a burlesque artist is, and I have seen a good few comediennes: but what, in the name of all that is risqué, is a "serio"? Perhaps Miss Mollie May can enlighten us.


And whilst we are at it, whatever happened to smoking concerts?

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Entrance Round The Corner


Today's scan features a strip of negatives that come from a film from the 1980s. Three photographs from the strip feature Elland. Two of them show some half-demolished buildings with the tower of St Mary's Church in the background. The buildings, which look a little worse for wear, must face onto Westgate, and they may include the back of the old Rose And Crown Inn. The inn - which dates from 1725 and is a Grade II listed building - is still standing, although as a boarded-up empty building rather than as a living pub.


The third shot was taken a little further along Southgate, I think, and features the door to one of those old cafes where the entrance always seemed to be around the corner.


Friday, February 07, 2020

Halifax Borough Market And Architectural Football


I was scanning some of my old negatives yesterday and came across this photograph of Halifax Borough market, which dates from around 1967 (say what you want about decimalisation, it provides invaluable help in dating old photographs).  Halifax's indoor market was - and still is - one of the finest examples of these Victorian cast-iron framed markets in the country, with it's fan-like windows and suspended gas heaters.

By complete coincidence, I was later browsing on YouTube and discovered, to my delight, that someone had posted an episode of the 1975 series "Nairn's Journeys", in which Halifax Borough Market has a starring role. Ian Nairn (1930-1983) was a British architectural critic and writer who was famous for his outspoken criticism of certain aspects of British town planning in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. In 1959 he published a book, "Outrage" which highlighted what he saw as the modern trend in unimaginative town planning. I was introduced to his ideas by my brother, Roger, who had one of the first copies of his book and was a great follower of his work. The "Nairn's Journeys" series was a wonderful series in which he conducted "architectural football matches" between northern towns. One memorable episode was devoted to a contest between Huddersfield and Halifax.



If you have never seen the episode, I apologise for spoiling things by telling you that Halifax won the contest by five goals to two! Part of that victory was down to the splendid Halifax Borough Market, but most of it was brought about by the fact that "Halifax had managed to express itself". The film is particularly fascinating for its praise for the modern architecture of Halifax - the, then, new Building Society HQ - and its footage of the Piece Hall during a time of transition (it was due to be turned into a car park!)

Thinking of that same architectural football context 45 years on, I am convinced that the outcome would be just as positive in Halifax's favour. It continues to express itself as a town proud of its heritage but with an eye to the future.

Friday, January 31, 2020

The Summer Of '68 (A Sepia Saturday Post)

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week could be made to measure for the two photos I am going to share. Although I chose the theme image, its connection to two old photographs I took some 52 years ago didn't occur to me until the other day when I was trawling through my collection of old colour slides looking for an image to post. The theme image comes from the Flickr Commons collection of the Belgian organisation Liberas, which is devoted to preserving and managing the heritage of liberal organisations in that country. The actual image features a canal barge in the Belgian town of Ghent in 1897.



Jump forward 71 years and move north-east by fifty kilometres and you will get to Bruges in the summer of 1968. My photograph features my niece, Diana, two of my friends, Dave Hebblethwaite and Darrel Oldfield, on my brothers barge, Brookfoot, which was moored on a canal in the beautiful city of Bruges. If 1967 was the Summer of Love, then 1968 was the famous Summer of Discontent, People throughout Europe were protesting on the streets and calling for a new solidarity between workers and students, friendship between all European people, and the creation of a new society. Darrel, Dave and myself had left our native West Yorkshire, and, carrying a banner proclaiming that "Workers Unity Wins", we had started hitchhiking around Europe, seeing the sites, meeting up with other groups of students, and luxuriating in our youthful freedom.


My brother, his wife and daughter, were on a different European mission. They had recently sailed their flat-bottomed Yorkshire barge across the English Channel, and had embarked on a tour of the canal system of Northern Europe. Our paths crossed in Bruges, and we stayed on the barge for a couple of nights. Following the meeting which is preserved in these two old photographs, Darrel, Dave and myself continued our journey around Belgium and Holland and then returned home to go our separate ways to University, and to whatever life had in store for us. My brother and his family continued sailing through the canals of Europe and then swapped canal boats for sailing boats and headed for the Caribbean. We are all still waiting a new society, and - on this day when the UK officially leaves the European Union - I fear that it might be further away than ever.


THIS IS A SEPIA SATURDAY POST. TO SEE OTHER POSTS ON THIS SAME THEME, GO TO THE SEPIA SATURDAY BLOG AND FOLLOW THE LINKS

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...