Friday, May 30, 2014

Sepia Saturday 230 : A Sutherland Sister And A Pot Of Glue

Our theme image for Sepia Saturday 230 is an 1890 Carte de Visite (CdV) featuring Miss Grace Sutherland and her remarkable hair. Grace was one of seven Sutherland Sisters, a singing group from New York State, who were noted for their long hair (a kind of reverse ZZ top of their day). I can't think of any of my relatives with potentially record-breaking hair so I turned to my collection of CdV's to see if I had anything that might possibly give Miss Sutherland a run for her money. There was nothing, of course: Miss S and her siblings were in a class of their own. So then I had a soothing glass of malt and began to ponder as to what you could possibly do with all that hair. And one though led to another and eventually I came up with a kind of hair-brained calculation which I would like to share with you. Perhaps it answers one of the questions that has been troubling me for some time : how on earth were all those fine Victorian and Edwardian gentlemen able to cultivate such fine beards and side-whiskers? The answer might just happen to be a Sutherland Sister and a pot of glue!

You can find more interpretations of this week's theme by visiting the SEPIA SATURDAY BLOG and following the various links.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

People Of Halifax - Sir Francis Crossley

A few weeks ago I was approached by the people running a website devoted to Halifax, my home town in West Yorkshire, to write a short series of posts on "The People Of Halifax". I chose as the subject for my first post, the nineteenth century entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sir Francis Crossley. I am reproducing the first part of that article here, if you would like to read the rest of it, you can find the complete post on the website

1 : Sir Francis Crossley

Most northern industrial towns and cities have the names of their philanthropic benefactors stencilled across their built environment. Streets are named in their honour, and parks, museums, galleries and halls proclaim the generosity of the family name. Bradford had its Lister and its Salt; Huddersfield had its Ramsdens; and Halifax had Ackroyd, Mackintosh and the Crossley family. These Victorian entrepreneurs left a lasting legacy in brick, steel and turf that can still be seen in the valleys of West Yorkshire long after their workshops ceased production and their factories and mills were turned into smart apartments for trans-Pennine commuters. In Halifax, only the Ackroyd family could give the Crossleys a run for their money in terms of corporate generosity, and amongst the various Crossley brothers, it is Francis or Frank Crossley who probably has left the largest architectural footprint on the town itself. It is fitting, therefore, to briefly examine the life and works of Sir Francis Crossley in this first of a short series on “The People of Halifax”.

Francis Crossley was born in Halifax in October 1817, the fifth child and the youngest son of John and Martha Crossley. At the time of his marriage to Martha Turner at the very dawn of the nineteenth century, John Crossley was managing a small carpet weaving workshop in the centre of Halifax. Within a few years he had gone into partnership with his brother Thomas and a local man, James Travers, to run a worsted spinning mill at Dean Clough along the banks of the River Hebble. The Crossley family would always maintain that they came from humble origins, which, to a certain extent, was true, but there are degrees of humbleness. The Crossleys were an old and respectable Yorkshire family which had been reduced in circumstances by John Crossley’s grandfather who, we are told, was too fond of hunting and shooting to pay proper attention to his business. Martha Turner came from local farming stock in an age when local farmers would often supplement their income by engaging in small-scale textile manufacture as well. By the time Francis Crossley was born, by a combination of hard work, entrepreneurial drive and good fortune, John Crossley had managed to build his Dean Clough enterprise into a thriving business which was increasingly specialising in the weaving of carpets.

To read the rest of this article, please follow this LINK

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Raising My Head Above The Parapet, Bezam Brush In Hand

I raise my head above the Spring Cleaning parapet to waive a cheery hello to the world. "The house is a tip", my Good Lady Wife said to me a few weeks ago. This was neither literally correct (the tip is down the road in Brighouse next to the late lamented Tip Inn) nor was it anything new: it is a lament as frequently recited in this household as the recurring chorus of "On Ilkley Moor B'art At". The difference this time, she informed me with a frightening degree of determination, is that visitors will be descending on our house in a few weeks time for The Wedding (the use of the upper case is not the result of my usual sloppy grammar; the said event has now achieved the capitalised status of the Good Lady Wife, the Queen, the Bible, God, and Sheffield Wednesday Football Club). So I have been sorting out the back passage, hoovering the dust from under the beds, shifting wardrobes, filling skips, and trying to make order out of chaos. 

The GLW has just gone out for coffee with a friend so I am able to take advantage of this slight respite to scan and publish a photograph I found on a strip of 35mm colour negatives lodged under a bookcase. Like most of my old photographs, I can remember taking this particular picture even though it must have been more than thirty years ago. It was Robin Hood's Bay in East Yorkshire and it was early one morning, just as the little fishing boats were heading out on the morning tide. We were staying in a little cottage overlooking the bay. As I describe this I can almost feel the chill of the sea fret coming in off the North Sea.

But is that the sound of a car in the drive? I must rapidly press the "publish" button and grab the waiting bezam brush(*)

(*) Bezam Brush = Old Yorkshire dialect for a rough cleaning brush used for clearing dust and spider's webs from inaccessible places.  .

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Regularity and Rhododendrons

I have not been as regular as I would like to be - in the blogging department. Since returning from Spain things have been forming a disorderly queue in order to claim my attention and the flow of news from nowhere has suffered accordingly. I would like to promise that things will get better, but I suspect that it will be a couple of months before they do.

One big item of the agenda is the coming wedding of Alexander and Heather on the 21st June. Over the weekend we took our Scarborough cousins over to see the venue for the reception and the evening ceilidh which is Wortley Hall, midway between Sheffield and Huddersfield. The hall and the gardens were looking wonderful in the spring sunshine and the Rhododendron bushes were quite stunning in their size and colour.

I will try and post as frequently as I can, but I apologise in advance for the inevitable gaps and the lack of consistency. I also apologise if I do not manage to get around to all my favourite blogs as regularly as usual - I will catch up when I can.

And, of course, once the big day arrives, I will make sure that there are plenty of photographs for you to see.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

From A Red Rooster To Throgmorton Avenue

I went for a very pleasant couple of pints to the Red Rooster at Brookfoot last night. Despite the fact that it is only a few miles away from where I live and it being a noted Real Ale pub, it was my first visit to what is a rather pleasant and convivial pub. Looking through my collection of old postcards of Brighouse this morning I came across this one of Brookfoot and, unless I am very much mistaken, that is the Red Rooster on the extreme left hand edge of the picture. When the picture was taken it was known as "The Wharf" and it was a popular haunt of workers on the Calder and Hebble Navigation which can be seen at the bottom of the short wooded slope.

As with all postally used cards it is full of unanswered questions. It would appear to have been sent in March 1912 to a Miss Young who was living in Throgmorton Avenue, London, in the very shadow of the old London Wall. The message was as follows:  Dear Annie, I shall not be at Fenchurch St today. Annie does not want to miss Church during Lent. She goes every Thursday evening. Shall see you one evening in the week. Love to all. 

The name of the writer is either Minnie or perhaps Mimi and it is impossible to make out the place where the card was posted. It is, however, unlikely to have been Brighouse: it seems like a casual arrangement to meet up rather than the prelude to what would have been a lengthy journey indeed. Maybe the sender had bought the card whilst enjoying a couple of pints in the Wharf during a tour of Real Ale pubs in West Yorkshire. But there again, maybe not.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Commercial Break 3 : The Good New Days

From Picture Post : 30 July 1949

Ah for the good old days when wine was marketed as a medicinal supplement rather than a quick passport to alcoholic oblivion. For the days when fancy winery monikers - be they Blossom Forge or Musselbank Creek - were eclipsed by the no-nonsense descriptive text of "Keystone Superior Australian Burgundy". Oh for the days when there was such a thing as "Empire Wine" and it was served in sensible bottles with re-usable corks. For the days when it was 5/9 a bottle. .... but hang on a minute, if you calculate the price in 1949 and the equivalent price now, it works out at a very expensive bottle of wine indeed. Ah for the good new days.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Blackadder Goes Forth Whistling A Gershwin Tune

Sometimes I get carried away by an image. It need not be an image of natural beauty or searing drama; often it is in the prosaic that fascination resides. Take, for example, this record cover along with its 78rpm shellac disk which I must have picked up from some junk shop for pennies rather than pounds and which now resides on one of my bookshelves forever hoping that I will crank up my old gramophone. There is something about the colour, the texture, the design and the wording that endlessly fascinates me. I could gaze at the cover for a full 3 minutes and 19 seconds and obtain almost as much enjoyment from the sight of it than as from the sound of its contents. But why limit yourself to the look when you can hear the record as well. My thanks to that legion of lovers of old music who make some of the fine tunes of the past available on platforms such as YouTube.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Sepia Saturday 227 : Amy

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features two small girls pictured in a typically idyllic Edwardian garden surrounded by climbing shrubs and wicker furniture. A cocktail of half-memories sent me searching through the boxes containing Fowler Beanland's vintage postcard collection and I found this postcard which was sent to him in August 1905. I suspect the card was an early example of the marketing technique which sees personalisation of mass consumption products - a technique that has led to the numerous keyrings, mugs, pens, and cuddly toys which you can now get personalised with the name of your favourite granddaughter or great-nephew. I can half visualise a stand full of similar cute girls wielding a pair of apples arranged alphabetically from Alice to Zaniska.

As far as this particular card is concerned, Amy was the logical choice. It was sent to Fowler by his brother and Sister-In-Law, Albert and Kate Beanland - my grandparents. And it would appear that it was sent to mark the first birthday of my Auntie Amy. Auntie Amy was born in August 1904 and lived a good long life until she died, in Scarborough, in 2003. She is still fondly remembered in my family because with the small legacy she left me I went out and bought a dog which I named after her and who is sat at my feet as I write this. The Eliza (or possibly Elizer) referred to in the message would be Albert and Fowlers' sister, Eliza Beanland.

"Dear Brother, Thanking you kindly for Amy present and please to say that she got a lot bought and you should hear her call Eliza, you would laugh.  With love from, A&K B"

You can read more Sepia Saturday submissions by following the links on the Sepia Saturday Blog. I will do that later today - for now, Amy is demanding a walk.

Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...